Therapy Beats Drugs for Mild Depression, Study Shows

Concerns over the rate of prescriptions for anti-depressant medications in the United States have been steadily rising for some time, as critics suggest that the treatment option alone is sometimes unnecessary or inadequate, and may not provide long-term solutions. Recently, those in favor of promoting different treatment modalities such as psychotherapy and counseling have gained support from a study based at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, which shows that while the drugs can be significantly effective for clients diagnosed with “severe” depression, those with mild to moderate symptoms are likely to receive a much greater benefit from other treatment options.

The study was based on the work of six previous studies on the efficacy of certain psychiatric drugs, and forms a more comprehensive view of the potential of such drugs to impact the lives of a wide range of clients. In many initial studies of antidepressants, notes the study, trials are arranged to ensure the greatest chance of winning approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and additional considerations may not be given the attention the deserve.

Psychotherapy and other types of mental health treatments may benefit greatly from the study, as more general practice physicians become aware of the potential for more meaningful care through such services, and avoid prescribing medications in inappropriate situations. The information should also be adequately distributed throughout the public consciousness, as clients have traditionally been exposed to considerable amounts of advertising from pharmaceutical companies positing their ability to help with mental health concerns. While many clients may still benefit from the use of such medications, the prevalence of therapy and counseling for moderate issues is bound to become greater as further academic work is produced.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Tudor

    Tudor

    January 8th, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    I have heard that if you take a lot of drugs for the smallest of problems like a headache or something…very regularly for a long time, then ur body doesnt respond to drug as easily later on in life…if this is true then taking drugs for small things like these is nothing but disaster.

  • Michel Watson

    Michel Watson

    January 8th, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Drug intake should be kept to a bare minimum, and drugs should be used only when there is no alternative. It is not good for the body if drugs are taken for every little problem.

  • Shannon L

    Shannon L

    January 8th, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Finally, a research result that makes sense!!

  • lance gibbs

    lance gibbs

    January 8th, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    I always stayed away from drugs for minor problems like these.and although the availability of therapy was not great back in the day,it is now and we must all try and make use of this and avoid drugs as much as possible.

  • soldy

    soldy

    January 8th, 2010 at 10:15 PM

    Tudor and lance, you consider depression to be a small thing, a minor problem? You obviously have never suffered from this very debilitating condition or you wouldn’t have made such a comment. It isn’t, not by a long shot. I hope neither of you ever have to experience it sometime to find that out.

  • Martha

    Martha

    January 9th, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    yay for therapy and the little people, boo hiss at big pharma!!

  • Renee

    Renee

    January 10th, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    Sometimes just having the chance to talk things thru with friends can make all of the difference in the world with how you are feeling, so the fact that therapy with a licensed counselor helps so many comes as no big shocker.

  • Iris

    Iris

    January 11th, 2010 at 8:30 AM

    talk it out, talk it out- it can work

  • Rita Cornish

    Rita Cornish

    March 22nd, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    I believe my PTSD started about a year ago. I have had Fibromyalgia for some 17 years…I finally found a wonderful Fibromyalgia specialist. He dianosed me with PTSD and ADD. I am at a loss what to do right now. He wants me to have therapy, that could help me through this. My problem is it all costs so much money, and I don’t have it. I am now looking for a Grant to help me to have this Therapy…

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