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Depressed? Should you Take Medication or Receive Psychotherapy?

Posted Apr 23 2009 5:23pm
An article by Dr Michael Shery:

Should you take medication or get into therapy to treat your depression? Antidepressants are often the first treatment offered to people who are depressed. Managed care and health insurance companies prefer this approach because antidepressants are viewed as less expensive than psychotherapy.

Numerous studies demonstrate that the use of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and antidepressant medication are equally effective in treating depression; and, that combining psychotherapy with the use of medication is more effective than using medication alone. Importantly, because of the inclusion of medication and its side effects, the relapse rate is higher among depressives treated with combined treatment than those treated solely with psychotherapy.

Remember: The providers of your health care tend to use the tools for which they are trained: After all, if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything like a nail.

Therefore, most primary care physicians prescribe antidepressant medications before they refer for counseling or psychotherapy. They have their prescription pads handy - but they don't have much time available or training logged in talking with their patients about psychological issues. Like the rest of us, doctors tend to use the tools they have available and for which they were trained.

However, both antidepressants and psychotherapy are effective treatments for depression and a combination of the two is often more effective than either alone. Of course, at any particular time, one treatment is likely to be more effective than another for a particular patient. We still cannot accurately predict with great precision which treatment will be more effective for one person rather than another.

If you are depressed, remember that you can be treated by a psychologist, psychiatric social worker, psychiatrist or mental health counselor. The practitioner you are seeing may have only certain tools available to him or her or may be skilled in only using certain ones. Their recommendations for your treatment may have far more to do with THEIR TRAINING rather than YOUR PROBLEM.

Don't forget that there are a variety of treatments which are effective to treat your depression and that, regardless of which treatment your doctor or therapist offers first, if it doesn't work, ask about the alternatives.

Copyright, Shery, 2006

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Dr Shery is in Cary, Illinois, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo andLake-in-the-Hills. He ¡s a marriage counselor and psychologist who treats depression and anxiety. Make an appt or get his FREE newsletter at: http://www.nextdayappointment.com
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