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Depression: Treatment

How To Choose A Treatment For Depression That Is Best For You

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In addition to self help such as exercise, the decision of whether to use talk therapy and/or drugs is often a matter of what doctor or other professional you see, together with insurance coverage and/or restrictions and your economic situation.

According to a survey by Consumer Reports in 2004:

  • Both talk therapy (13 sessions or more) and drug therapy are about equally effective. Drug therapy is the more prevalent mode. The combination of talk and drug seems to be the best overall.
  • Improvement with drug therapy happens more quickly than with talk therapy.
  • Care from primary care doctors instead of a specialist was effective for people with mild problems, but less so for people with severe ones.
  • Therapy was seen by patients as being just as effective when given by psychologists and clinical social workers as when given by psychiatrists.
  • Patients who did their own research and monitored their own care reported better results.
  • Therapy offers two advantages to drugs:
    • No side effects 
    • The prospect of a permanent solution since you learn long term strategies.

Consumer Reports suggests asking the professional who recommends treatment at least the following questions:

  • What is your understanding of this problem?
  • What kind of medical treatments would you recommend - and why? 
    • If you are recommending a medical treatment, is it addictive?
    • Is there a non-addictive medical treatment available?
  • What kind of non-medical treatments such as exercise would you recommend -- and why?
  • How long will it take to experience some relief of symptoms?
  • How long will I need to stay on medication and/or continue with talk therapy to get the maximum benefit?

If you choose drug therapy, Survivorship A to Z recommends that:

  • You read Drugs 101, particularly the information on how to choose a drug and how to live with a drug.
  • Consider also asking:
    • What was the determining factor or factors in your finding that I am clinically depressed?
    • What has research shown  about effectiveness of the drug you recommend with patients like me?
    • What has your experience been with other patients? How long has improvement lasted?
    • How often do you generally have to change drugs before finding one that helps?
    • As with drugs in general: are there alternative treaments I should try first?
  • Look at Consumer Reports' Best Buy Drugs for lower price drugs that may be comparably effective to brand name drugs. See: offsite link.

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