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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What other options are there for treating my depression and PTSD?

    I have been diagnosed with major depression and complex-PTSD, after prolonged sexual abuse. I am currently seeing two psychologists that i see each fortnightly, one for working on my ptsd & the other to help me deal with my related depression. With them I have tried many different coping strategies including, grounding techniques (for my disassociating), exposure therapy (to supposedly help decrease the effect that triggers have on me), changing endings, mindfulness and meditation. As well as many others but none have worked expect for altering my perception of the colour red to not be a trigger but to have another meaning. My depression is making it impossible for me to do anything, even things that earlier in my treatment i enjoyed. If anything with all of this help my depression seems to be getting worse, with only little improve in my ptsd. I am also seeing a psychiatrist that has changed my medication a few times with no or little change. Any other suggestions as to what may help?
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  • 1


    Dr Joanne Dennison

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    Dennison Psychology is a private psychology practice, with a location in South Yarra (Melbourne). Appointments are available on weekdays (appointments available from early mornings through … View Profile

    I am sorry to hear what you have experienced. I appreciate how horrible it must be to experience symptoms of PTSD alongside depression, especially after you have worked to turn things around. It can take considerable time for therapy to alleviate deep rooted problems. I suggest that you continue engaging in treatment, but consider only attending one psychologist, as seeing two at the same time can be counterproductive. With meditation, it can take several months for benefits to start prevailing.

    Whilst exposure therapy for PTSD can be extremely beneficial, EMDR therapy gives fabulous results, and is often preferred by clients. Further to this, it may be more successful in reducing the emotional effect the colour red has on you. Not all therapists are trained in EMDR - a register of those in Australia who are can be found on the EMDRAA website (note that your disassociation will need to be addressed before you receive EMDR). Both exposure therapy and EMDR are ‘state-dependent’ therapies. This means that benefits of therapy may not be maintained if the client was being prescribed certain drugs at the time of therapy (including benzodiazepines). You should find out the complete range of drugs that are associated with state-dependent effects, and discuss this with your psychiatrist. (Note that drinking alcohol can also adversely impact on the Brian's ability to consolidate information - even one drink can have an effect)

    Antidepressants can take 4-6 weeks to induce the desired effect in the recipient, and so requires some level of patience. Some people find it beneficial to attend group therapy alongside their individual therapy, with the potential for it to bring about benefits that are not possible in individual therapy - this is something you could consider.

    i wish you all the best in your continued efforts to address your PTSD and depression. 

  • 1


    I am a psychologist in private practice.I also lecture and supervise psychologists/psychology students at University.I work with clients who suffer from depression and anxiety. I … View Profile

    It sounds like you are really going through a hard time at the moment. I can only encourage you to continue with counselling and also to continue seeing your sppsychiatrist regularly .  Your problems and complex and it will therefore take some time for you to feel a great deal better. Since you have already experienced some improvements in your symptoms it is likely that the treatment that you are currently engaged in are effective. I'm sure your psychologist has told you that depression can make a person feel very negative. You should try not to allow this negativity to stop you from continuing with your treatment. You should gradually feel better and better over time if you keep working at the treatments that are helpful to you.

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