The meds will almost never eliminate depression. There are a rare few people whose depression is entirely biological, but it is really rare (I think I read somewhere it is something like less than 2% of people, at the most, who have entirely biological depression). More commonly, it is a combination of biological & emotional factors, or entirely emotional factors that cause the depression.
I'm not really sure anyone could say how long until the meds work. If a particular med is going to work, it will usually start working within 6-8 weeks of reaching the appropriate dosage for the individual. Sometimes just that process along can take 3-4 months. Then, if the first med doesn't work, the psych will try a second med, and so on. Some people have treatment-resistant depression & don't find very much relief until they are on 2 or 3 medications for depression/anxiety. Others (like me) do not benefit from medication at all. Either the side effects outweigh the benefits, or there just aren't any benefits at all to the many anti-depressant medications on the market.
I do want to encourage you that a combination of therapy & medication will usually help most people to a certain degree. However, every person is individual & whether meds will work for them and how long they will take to kick in if they do work is entirely unique. I would encourage you to support your husband in pursuing as many avenues of treatment as possible. There are a lot of options out there. Besides therapy & medication, he can try nutrition, exercise, meditation, massage, alternative treatments/"Eastern medicine" and various forms of relaxation. It is really, really hard work trying to fight depression, but the battle can be won if the depressed person is committed to their treatment plan, has supportive family/friends in their life & has a good team of mental health professionals to offer encouragement & sound advice on what to try to reduce the depressive thoughts.
Hang in there & know that we are here to support you as much as possible! :)
PS-- I double checked. Stats for "endogeous depression" (i.e., depression that was caused purely by biological causes & therefore will improve when treated only with medication) is 4% for men, 6% for women. That statistic does not include people whose depression is caused by BOTH biological causes & life-factors -- who could benefit from both meds & therapy -- and, of course does not include people who have no biological basis at all for their depression (so called "reactive depression"). Hope that helps. :)
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Post Edited (Frances_2008) : 7/7/2009 9:10:38 PM (GMT-6)