Perhaps the only thing worse than depression is having depression and not being able to afford treatment. I frequently get letters from those of you who are in just this predicament. I've collected here all of the free and low-cost resources and ideas that I have come across in the past couple of years. I will continue to add more as I find them. If you have a suggestion for something that I've overlooked please write to me at email@example.com.
LOW COST MEDS
Pill Splitting - An article in the September 1999 issue of Clinical Psychiatry News reports that you may be able to purchase a higher dose pill at a cost only slightly more than the dose you're currently on and split them in half. In a presentation to the APA, it was reported that patients can save an average of 37% off their current medication costs by pill splitting. A list of the medications surveyed included popular antidepressants.
Needy Meds - According to their website: "NeedyMeds is a 501(3)(c) non-profit with the mission of helping people who cannot afford medicine or healthcare costs. The information at NeedyMeds is available anonymously and free of charge."
The Medicine Program - The Medicine Program's free services include: a prescription plan, a 24-hour nurse hotline, a dental plan, a medical plan, a vision plan and medical records storage. Their benefits are subsidized by running Google ads on their site.
Free Samples - Often pharmaceutical companies provide physicians with free samples. Ask your doctor is he/she has any samples on hand of your medication. I used to get all my Buspar this way.
ALTERNATIVES TO PRESCRIPTION MEDS
There are several herbals and nutraceuticals on the market that are reputed to work well as antidepressants and anti-anxiety treatments. They are inexpensive and do not require a prescription. St. John's Wort, melatonin, Kava Kava and Valerian have all been very effective for me personally.
St. John's Wort (depression)
Evening Primrose Oil (PMS, PMDD)
Vitamins and Minerals (depression)
Kava Kava (anxiety)
Valerian (anxiety and sleep)
LOW COST TREATMENT
Sliding Scale Fees - Some providers may have sliding-scale fees. Based on your income, the provider will reduce his or her fees.
Negotiate a Lower Fee with Your Doctor - Other providers, if they are aware of your financial limitations, may be willing to negotiate a payment plan that you can afford or to lower their rates according to what your insurance plan pays.
Community Mental Health Centers - Many communities have community mental health centers (CMHCs). These centers offer a range of mental health treatment and counseling services, usually at a reduced rate for low-income people. CMHCs generally require that you have a private insurance plan or be a recipient of public assistance.
For more information about Community Mental Health Centers:
National Council for Community Behavioral Health Care
12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 320
Rockville, MD 20850
Pastoral Counseling Programs - Your church or synagogue can put you in touch with a pastoral counseling program. Certified pastoral counselors, who are ministers in a recognized religious body, have advanced degrees in pastoral counseling, as well as professional counseling experience. Pastoral counseling is often provided on a sliding-scale fee.
For more information about Pastoral Counseling Programs:
American Association of Pastoral Counselors
9504-A Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22031-2303
SELF-HELP AND SUPPORT GROUPS
Another option is to join a self-help or support group. These groups give people a chance to talk about and work on their common problems-such as alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, family issues, and relationships. Self-help groups are generally free and can be found in most communities. You may also join an online support group right here at About. We have a support group meeting 24 hours a day in our chat room.
For more information about Self-Help Groups:
American Self-Help Clearinghouse
Northwest Covenant Medical Center
25 Pocono Road
Denville, NJ 07834-2995
National Mental Health Self-Help Clearinghouse
1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 1000
Philadelphia, PA 19107