--Original published at CatherinesCollegeBlog
Major depressive disorder is treated effectively with both methods of psychotherapy and medication, yet some still argue for one treatment over the other. When psychotherapy is paired with medication as a treatment plan, it creates the ideal situation for patients in most instances. Those who are pro medication argue that without these antidepressants, the brains of patients are not able to relax to a state that will allow for effective psychotherapy. Since the underlying cause of depression is a chemical imbalance within the brain, medication is sometimes a must for patients to ultimately reach a mental state where they feel better about opening up and solving more problems with psychotherapy.
The answer for which is the better treatment also depends on the severity of depression the patient is experiencing. People with moderate to severe depression, and especially those with chronic depression, are better off when they include medication in their treatment plans. Also the cost is another factor to consider when choosing between treatment options. Since many of the medications used to treat depression are available in generic form, more people suffering from this have easier access to treatment. The generic forms are more affordable, unlike most psychotherapy sessions, unless they happen to be covered by insurance. Additionally, these newer antidepressants have much more mild side effects as they continue to be developed, so they are more tolerable at this point. Certain people respond differently to each method based on their characteristics, as researchers have begun determining. After performing a study, they found that patients who responded more positively to psychotherapy treatment had very low activity in the region of their brains known as the anterior insula. On the other hand, those who responded more positively to medication, specifically Lexapro, had very high activity in this same region.
Those who favor psychotherapy as the better option do so for several reasons. It is as effective, if not more effective, than medication for depression that is diagnosed at mild or moderate levels. Although the process of psychotherapy typically takes longer to take effect, the benefits last much longer than those provided by medications, which are more likely to lead to a patient relapse. Additionally, there are far fewer side effects that result from psychotherapy sessions, aside from some emotional difficulties that will arise. There are also many issues associated with the side effects of medication, at least from this point of view. There is a risk of patients becoming addicted to their antidepressant drugs, as well as the likely possibility that patients would overdose on their medication in an effort to feel better more quickly. These medications are not particularly effective for mild or moderate symptoms of depression, yet doctors are so quick to prescribe them to their patients as an attempt at a quick fix. It has been discovered that psychotherapy has an effectiveness rate of about eighty percent, especially for these mild to moderate instances of depression that appear the most often among people. Another reason to choose psychotherapy over medication is that many clients actually want to know why they are experiencing their depression symptoms. While medication essentially temporarily numbs their systems from these depressed feelings, psychotherapy provides clients with an explanation along with ways to fix the issue. Adding to this, medications are typically prescribed in the same manner from patient to patient, at least in terms of dosage. The only personalized aspect of this treatment approach would be choosing another medication to try when the patient does not react well to the first choice. Therapists have the ability to tailor their sessions and attitudes to each patient based on their unique characteristics. Licensed therapists must also keep their knowledge of this field current, which means patients will be receiving the most up to date and applicable information for help with their situation.
I used several articles from Psychology Today to discuss both methods of psychotherapy and medication as effective major depressive disorder treatments. As a source for this assignment, I believe Psychology Today is credible because it provides the latest information regarding psychological issues. The articles I used cited specific research studies and examples, and also made sure to include statistical data, which helps establish credibility. You also mentioned in lecture that this is a website you recommend for people seeking help from a therapist, as anyone can search by zip code or demographic for a therapist who will be best for them. I also used The New York Times as a source. The particular article I chose referenced two universities, including Emory University and the University of Miami, from which the author obtained his research information, allowing him to make the claims he did. These research references make it a more credible source for me, as they are backed by professors who have their doctorates in the field. Forbes, which is a magazine mainly used for business articles and issues, was the final source I used. The particular article I chose discussed various methods of treating depression, offering pros and cons of each. I believe this made it a more credible source because it was not simply one sided, only providing evidence to support a single treatment as being the end all be all. Instead, it described why each method can be effective but also certain reasons to be cautious about these same methods.
Personally, I believe the most effective method for treating depression depends on the patient. I am not one to resort to medication as the solution because I would be afraid of developing a dependency on the drug. Other people recognize the amount of medication that makes them feel their best and are able to resist falling into the danger of overdose or addiction. If I was experiencing major depressive disorder, I would much rather try psychotherapy before being prescribed medication to treat the problem. I think the influence other people can have on us is powerful and underestimated. So often, people say that their friends or family members know them better than they know themselves. This can be true of therapists too, considering they have dedicated their lives to study the human mind and why we think, act, and feel the way we do. Psychotherapy can also be like having a friend whose only goal is to help you, which can create more of an optimistic outlook for the patient in this trusting relationship. Overall, I would agree that both medication and psychotherapy work effectively in reducing the symptoms of depression. It ultimately depends on the specific patient when the decision for which treatment is best must be made.