Antidepressants or talk therapy?

By • Published: September 30th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who struggles with depression or anxiety, antidepressant medications may appear like the most convenient way to find relief. After all, those fancy pharmaceutical commercials make treatment seem so simple. And you wouldn’t be alone in your inclination to try these drugs: 80 percent of respondents to a Consumer Reports questionnaire about depression and anxiety treatments said they had received prescriptions for them.

But before you start taking a medication that could have significant side effects… or that may flat-out not work… you should know there’s another kind of therapy that could be just as effective.

Consumer Reports’ 2009 Annual Questionnaire turned up more than fifteen-hundred readers who had sought professional help for depression and/or anxiety. These readers said their conditions improved after they began taking antidepressants, participated in at least seven talk-therapy sessions with a professional therapist, or did both.

Readers who only attended therapy showed just as much progress as those who only took medication. The greatest improvements were in those who saw a therapist and took medication.

But it may be worth giving the no-medication route a try. Antidepressants, while helpful for some, can cause unpleasant side effects. Sleepiness, sexual problems, increased suicidal thoughts and weight gain are a few of the most common Feeling depressed or anxious? Consider talking things out with a counselor first. If that doesn’t help as much as you’d like, you can always request a prescription later. And don’t underestimate the power of everyday behaviors to help in healing. Playing with pets, eating well and exercising might all lead to a better frame of mind.