I've heard antidepressants don't work for mild depression. Is that true?

Answers from Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.

Antidepressants don't work for everyone. For some people with mild depression, antidepressants seem to have little effect. However, for people with more severe depression, antidepressants often make a big difference.

Although antidepressants generally aren't as effective for mild depression, that doesn't mean that they never help. Depression affects each person differently, and each person responds to medications differently. Finding the right medication may take some trial and error.

If an antidepressant seems to ease your symptoms, it may be a good treatment choice for you. If you're taking an antidepressant, don't stop taking it without talking to your doctor.

For many people with mild depression, talk therapy (also called psychotherapy or psychological counseling) appears to be an effective treatment. Some people benefit from a combination of talk therapy and medications. Lifestyle changes — such as stress reduction and regular exercise — also can make a difference.

If you have signs and symptoms of depression, don't ignore them. Even mild depression can take a toll on your enjoyment of life, your performance at work or school, and your relationships with other people. And, left untreated, depression can get worse. Explore your treatment options with your doctor or mental health provider to figure out what's likely to work best to help you feel better again.

Jul. 03, 2012 See more Expert Answers