My 24-year-old sister has suffered depression for more than 10 years and has been medicated most of this time, however, she does not seem to be improving. I think regular sessions with a psychologist help but it seems every time she finds someone they move too far away or for some other reason are unable to continue seeing her. She then has to go through the whole process again of finding someone else and needs to start from scratch, paying in full for the first six sessions in order to reach the Medicare threshold.
Her depression prevents her from holding down a full-time job so every time this happens she finds it very difficult to find the money to pay for the six sessions. It also means that any progress she has made in other sessions is lost because she needs to start from the beginning with the new psychologist instead of just picking up where she left off.
Is there some way she can find someone who is likely to be able to see her long-term or is that just the luck of the draw?
Also, because her depression prevents her from holding down a full-time job for any reasonable length of time, is there some kind of financial support she could be receiving that she could use to help cover the cost of therapy?
I'm sorry to hear your sister has not been able to find effective help for her depression up until now. For the majority of people who are affected, the most effective treatment is certainly psychological therapy. Antidepressant medication can be helpful sometimes in the short-term, or longer if required. You also mention that the cost of sessions with a psychologist is an issue.
The first step to take is for her to make an appointment to see a GP and explain her concerns. It helps to request a longer consultation period, so there is time to explain her situation. The doctor can then discuss setting up a mental health treatment plan with her. This can include referral to a course of therapy with a psychologist, with the cost largely covered by Medicare.
A further course of sessions may also be prescribed if necessary, with the cost similarly covered. This is a good time to review the effectiveness of any medication too. If the current antidepressant is not making a difference, then the doctor can discuss alternatives with her, as well as other forms of support, to find and retain a job, for example.
For more information about treatments for depression, contact the SANE helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or visit www.sane.org.