My lama says that you should allow your subjective pain to awaken compassion for others that also suffer from whatever condition you are suffering with. Then take the medicine!
I no longer need to take antidepressants and I put this down to many years of practice. But Buddhist meditation is not therapy: it’s goal is enlightenment. This is why the Dharma is taught.
That said, calming meditation really helps to clear the mind of that nagging negative voice that informs depression and damages your chances of happiness in this life. I did this by learning to recognise it and then prevent it gaining energy and starting a loop in my mind. My personal experience is that it is like having a constant noise in your mind that spoils everything and makes it very hard to think and feel anything but despair that it will never end. Eventually you move on past it. Or I did, anyway. I also found the first Noble Truth, impermanence, a great help, because it meant that the was a light at the end of the tunnel and my pain would end.
A friend said (probably a quote somewhere), “if you are going through hell keep going until you get to the end”. Good advice I think.
Bootnote – here is another post against the same topic
I do’t need to focus on the pain – it’s always there, constantly. I just do’t give it any energy any more. I recommend the Tibetan practice of lo johng (not sure of spelling) – “sending and taking”, which the Dalai Lama describes in one of the “Essential Teachings” series – need to track the proper reference.
I also would’t embark on this without some instruction from a qualified teacher.
Another thing that came to mind recently – and sending and taking starts with this – is to forgive and love yourself first, before you try to give things to others. If you hate yourself the taint of the hatred will devalue whatever you give to others, and make it hurt more too!
Strongly recommend “The Art of Happiness” too, wonderful gentle book.