Dr. Kim Penberthy: This is Dr. Kim Penberthy of the UVA Health System. I am going to talk now about treatment of depression.
Host: Are there ways that people can treat depression on their own?
Dr. Kim Penberthy: Well, for the milder forms of depression or a normal, what we would call a normal depression, a reaction to a loss or a trauma or something like that, often times, people can treat themselves and do this naturally by getting support from family, by reducing some of the other stress in their life, by doing pleasant things, trying to get out and force themselves to exercise or take a walk by keeping on, forcing themselves to work and get back and reengaged in life. Then again getting support from people. That can often be helpful but when it gets to a point that the depression is more severe than that and may start interfering with function, it's a little bit harder for people to do that on their own. The other thing that is pretty popular in the U.
S. and abroad has been for people to self medicate with things like St. John's Wort and we know from the research that, that can be effective for people who have mild to moderate symptoms of depression. Again, it's important to take a medication that you get even if you get it over the counter that you can tell is a good quality and has a substantial dosage to it that you can quantify, so you know what you are getting, but we know that in more moderate to severe forms of depression, the research shows that St. John's Wort does not work. There are some other natural medications that people take, but unfortunately, many of them can interact with the other medications you might be on. For instance, St. John's Wort can interact with contraception and make it ineffective, it can also interact with anti-depressants that you might be on and make them less effective. So I would suggest that before anyone takes over the counter medications even if they think they are safe, if they are herbals that they do check with their physician because it can have negative consequences that you wouldn't want.