Drugs or Therapy?

Interesting piece here by Richard A. Friedman, MD, that appeared in the New York Times in January. Uncharacteristically for a psychiatrist, Friedman looks at which kinds of depression respond more to medication v. which ones respond to talk therapy. The article is titled “To Treat Depression, Drugs or Therapy?”

Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University, recently published a study in JAMA Psychiatry that identified a potential biomarker in the brain that could predict whether a depressed patient would respond better to psychotherapy or antidepressant medication.

Using PET scans, she randomized a group of depressed patients to either 12 weeks of treatment with the S.S.R.I. antidepressant Lexapro or to cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches patients to correct their negative and distorted thinking.

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Nine Ways to Support Someone Who Has Depression

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photo by carl jones (creative commons)

Thoughtful, and above all, not misguided piece at PsychCentral by  The nine points are taken from Deborah Serani’s Living With Depression, a book I haven’t read, but is generally quite favorably reviewed.

Here’s number one:

1. Be there.

According to Serani, the best thing you can do for someone with depression is to be there. “When I was struggling with my own depression, the most healing moments came when someone I loved simply sat with me while I cried, or wordlessly held my hand, or spoke warmly to me with statements like ‘You’re so important to me.’ ‘Tell me what I can do to help you.’ ‘We’re going to find a way to help you to feel better.’”

Red State Blues

Fascinating piece in today’s New York Times regarding differences between “red states” and “blue states” and their utilization of psychotherapy. It’s a thoughtful piece, and the author Seth Stevens-Davidowitz, takes some pains examining the data.

Compared with blue states, red states have roughly 30 percent higher suicide rates and around 20 percent higher rates of major depression. Among many other factors, lack of therapy is probably playing a role in these outcomes.

And this on the economics of therapy:

Sure, therapy can be pricey, but it is important to keep the costs of depression in mind. A recent study led by Paul E. Greenberg of the Analysis Group, an economic consulting firm, found that the average person with major depression costs some $7,000 per year in lost economic productivity. In study after study, therapy easily passes the many cost-benefit tests that have been applied to it.

Again, you can take a look at the article here. It’s worth a look.