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Talk therapy vs Drugs for the treatment of Depression and Anxiety?

ConsumerReportsHealth.org surveyed 3,079 readers to examine the type of care they received, and the effectiveness of their treatment, for the diagnosis of depression and anxiety.

The survey results are listed as follows:

  • Talk therapy rivaled drug therapy in effectiveness. Respondents indicated that if their treatment was “mostly talk” and lasted at least 13 sessions their outcome was better than those individuals who received “mostly medication”.
  • Respondents who used “mostly medication” also had favorable outcomes, and noted a quicker, intial response than the talk therapy, but expressed some frustration with the process of trial and error to determine their optimal medication and dosage, with minimal side effects. 55% of respondents had to try two or more medications, while 10% had taken five or more different drugs. 
  • The most effective combination with the most complete recovery was a combination of talking therapy and medication therapy. These clients had the benefit of the quicker responding medications, as well as the “steady” ongoing improvement and strenthening generated by the talk therapy.

The research revealed that clients who reported the best results from their treatment for depression and anxiety were more likely to take an active approach by:

  • Researching their problem before seeking help.
  • Asking therapists whether they have experience treating depression and anxiety.
  • Bringing a family member or friend to an office visit.
  • Keeping a written record of their treatment and emotional process.
  • Interviewing more than one professional.
  • Applying what they learned in session to their daily lives (doing their homework!).
  • This last step which speaks to the importance of working hard in therapy was the best predictor of a good outcome.

The article encourages  prompt, proper treatment of depression and anxiety, which has the ability to control symptoms and restore your quality of life and level of satisfaction.

(The data in this article appeared in Consumer Reports in October of 2004.)


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