Sorry to hear of the situation. The recommended treatment approaches for Depression are anti-depressant medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or a combination of the two. I can recommend this excellent website here as a starting point for learning more about the treatment of Depression.
CBT is a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure. Treatment is technique driven, brief, direct and time-limited(normally 10-12 sessions). CBT is used in individual therapy as well as group settings, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help applications. I wouldstrongly encourage you to consider CBT as I would expect you get great benefitfrom this approach.You could start by working through this excellent CBT based self-help program here. This will give you a resource to work with prior to you r appointment on the 13th. It should take several weeks to complete, is completely free and will teach you everything you need to know about Depression and what you can do about it. Alternatively, you could take a look at a book which will teach you some introductory techniques for dealingwith Depression at home. I can recommend a well known manual titled Mind Over Mood and another book titled The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression; A Step by Step Program as good places to start. You can find themboth here.
If after using a CBT approach you decide this may be something of future benefit then you could also consult with a CBT trained therapist. CBT is usually offered by Clinical Psychologists (although not exclusively) and you can contact the American Psychology Association (APA) for assistance with locating a Psychologist; take a look at the APA locator service here. You can use this to find Psychologists in your area and there is a phone number you can contact if you want a referral arranged for you. Also, take a look at an article published by the APA here. It's an interview with a senior Psychologist and covers some of the things you should consider when you looking for a Psychologist.Antidepressant medication in conjunction with CBT is likely to be the most effective treatment approach and so I am confident that by using the resources I have provided here and speaking with your doctor about medication you will be able to begin to feel better.
I hope this has been of some help. Please let me know if you have further questions or would like me to clarify any part of my answer.
can antidepressants be taken just for awhile or are they forever once started? I know this is not the case, but I can't help but feel like a failure for wanting/needing them. do they just make a person complacient and experience a pretend happiness?
Yes. In fact, they rally are only supposed to be taken for several months until the Depression lifts. The recommended sequence of treatment for Depression is actually:
1) CBT using a self-help approach
2) CBT with a therapist
3) CBT with a therapist and anti-depressant medication.
So you try each step and if it doesn't work you move on to the next. There are exceptions, so if you have a history of Depression, if you have already tried CBT with a therapist or if you are feeling suicidal then it is recommended that you start the antidepressant medication at the first step in conjunction with CBT.
Antidepressants do lift mood however once you stop taking them they don't have any effect....so the relapse rate can be high. CBT has a much better relapse rate and so I guess you could say that the effect of the therapy is more 'real'.
Don't for a moment think that you are a failure for requiring medication. Depression is a horribly debilitating illness and you should use every means at your disposal to get it under control. Given that you feel you have been Depressed for quite some time then you should be seeking antidepressant medication at this point. However, it is really, really important that you undergo CBT as well. The combination of the two is quite powerful and the gains you make through therapy should mean that you will be able to stop the medication after a period and get on with your life feeling much better. CBT doesn't actually work so well if a person is seriously Depressed so the medication at this time should be used to ensure that you can get the full benefit from the CBT.
Let me know if you have further questions.