Treating Depression: Medication versus Therapy
|Copyright (c) 2007 by Kevin Thompson.
||Reprinted by BellaOnline
topic of how best to treat depression is one that gets a lot of
attention, partly because the two competing schools of thought are
promoted by adherents who do not see eye-to-eye.
The 'therapy' school advocates non-medical therapy, most often a form
of talk therapy (although non-verbal, non-drug therapies also exist).
Perhaps the most popular type of therapy, with the best track record
for success in this area, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. CBT
works by re-training the mind and the person, to avoid negative
patterns of thought and behavior that promote depression, in favor of
positive patterns that prmote mental health.
The 'medical' school advocates medications that work to alleviate
depression by changing the concentration of the brain's chemical
messengers (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and
dopamine. Changing (usually, increasing) the concentration of one or
more of these chemicals can improve or banish depression.
So which is better? If the question had an obvious answer, we would all
know it by now! The fact that the debate exists is a good indication
that neither approach can demonstrate a dramatic advantage over the
other. The existence of the debate confirms what numerous studies have
shown, namely, that both approaches work much of the time, and neither
works all of the time.
For those of us who are more interested in results than debates, the
practical answer is that combining therapy with medication is a good
bet. Medication can make therapy more effective by making it easier for
people to change their destructive habits. Therapy can make medication
more effective by showing people how to avoid situations that foster
The good news is that effective treatments for depression do exist. If
you have been suffering from depression, now is the time to seek help.
There is no reason to wait.
Kevin Thompson, Ph.D. is the author of Medicines for Mental Health: The
Ultimate Guide to Psychiatric Medication
You can find information about treatments for depression, bipolar
disorder, schizophrenia, and sexual problems on his Web site at