Depression Treatment: Therapy or Medications?

Introduction

Depression is the most abundant mood disorder and a syndrome that fatigue people. As a disorder, depression can occur in the unipolar and bipolar forms. Being a syndrome, it is seen as episodes of decreased motivation, sadness and suicidal thoughts, etc. There are a lot of things that can cause depression. Human beings who were abused, lost their friends or relatives, live and/or work in the conflictive environment or suffer from serious illnesses are likely to experience this condition (Cirakoglu, Kokdemir, & Demirutku, 2003). Thus, it occurs to be clear that all depressed people cannot be treated in the same way, and their issues require an individual approach. Some of them need just slight interventions while others are to have intensive drug and therapy treatment. Still, we believe that, in general, treating depression with therapy is more effective than with treatment of medication such as anti-depression. People who are engaged in religious practices or spend their free time by doing the things they like have more opportunities to overcome the disorder without the outer help (Cirakoglu et al., 2003). This fact proves that pharmaceutical treatment is not always the best variant and therapy is often more appropriate as it includes mental influences.

Adverse Effects

Needless to say that there is a vast difference between the way therapy and medications influence patient’s life, even the effects provided on the human’s organism vary. Those produced by the drugs are often not only positive but also adverse. According to DeRubeis, Siegle and Hollon, both therapy and antidepressant medications help people to overcome the disorder and reduce the possibility of recurring this medical condition (2008). We agree with this statement but claim that the attention should be also paid to the side effects caused by the treatment.

All medications consist of various chemicals, and many of them are dangerous ones. Beach and Querques (2011) consider the possibility that “the medication did not cause the adverse event but merely failed to treat adequately the underlying problem” (p. 75). However, Schwartz, Meszaros, Khan and Nihalani (2007) are sure that antidepressants can ruin one’s health. Antipsychotics and some antidepressants can make the patient suffer from metabolic syndrome and diabetes. The research has shown that tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors make people gain weight. One can become more than two kilos heavier after a month of treatment. Depression often lasts for a long time and is attended by overnutrition. Thus, a person is likely to face obesity, which, in its turn, increases the risk of diabetes. Moreover, antidepressants have a range of other side effects. These can be “insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, and nausea, etc” (Rajaei, 2010). We consider that these disadvantages are not just inconveniences that can be endured.

They can cause more harm than use. It is hard to feel the benefits of treatment when one needs to deal with a new issue. While changing the mood with the help of drugs a person can become terminally ill, as very often diabetes leads to lethal outcomes. Another problem can occur if the patient is not satisfied with the way he/she looks. Extra weight may cause new depression or make a person keep to a diet. Thus, the possibility of problems connected with digestion and anorexia becomes realer. Except for that, we believe that the constant administration of medications can make one think that it would be impossible to have a normal life without them. It can be referred to addiction and can be treated as an additional disorder. On the basis of the mentioned information, we can conclude that the adverse effects of anti-depression medications cannot be neglected. The risks are extreme, which proves that this kind of treatment is not likely to be commonly used. It is better to combine it with therapy if the immediate results are needed.

Treating depression with the help of therapy, especially cognitive one, does not have severe adverse effects. It is proved to have an immense influence on the patient condition and enhance the possibility of positive outcomes. The religious cognitive-emotional therapy uses the patient’s beliefs to decrease the symptoms of the disorder (Rajaei, 2010). Men are said to gain more benefit from the religious practices than women. However, it is the only difference, and the therapy helps to overcome problems and deal with depression (Cirakoglu et al., 2003). As cognitive therapies do not include any drastic measures, they have no negative influence on the patient’s health. The only side effect that we can see is the possible appearance of issues due to the treatment termination. It is hard for people who got used to receiving therapy stop doing it. Thus, they need some time for adaptation. Still, this cannot be compared to the disadvantages of medicaments.

The Process of Treatment

While receiving treatment people communicate, and this helps them to overcome the disorder, but while taking medications, individuals continue to live as they used to. They stay lonely and feel neglected. Cognitive behavior therapy includes the consultations with the therapist (Kuyken, Dalgleish, & Holden, 2007). After the first few meetings, it will be decided whether the patient needs long-term treatment or not and whether it is better to have face-to-face consultations or group ones (Khalid-Khan & Roberts, 2011). The process of receiving therapy can be compared with a conversation. People are to interact with each other to understand their own problems, evaluate the problems of others and draw conclusions. Even though negative emotions can occur during the session, it is likely to end with the feelings of acceptance and relief. The patient is encouraged to keep a diary, which will help one to understand and reconsider what has happened in the past and what kind of reaction followed the event. The therapist assists in altering bad thoughts. He/she recommends several practices that are meant to change unhelpful ideas and behavior. Thus, the patient changes one’s lifestyle, which tends to influence the worldview. This person utilizes new concepts and finds reasons to become happy.

One who receives medical treatment also consults a doctor, but the task is to get a prescription. Commonly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are prescribed as one of the most available antidepressants (Papakostas & Fava, 2006). They can be substituted by serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors. All these drugs have a similar effect on a person. They block neurotransmitters and hormones to relieve depression. Thus, nothing changes in the patient’s life. The person continues to live as one used to, and due to the influences from the outside his/her emotions and behavior alters. It seems to be the easiest way one can choose to deal with depression, which does not prevent the recrudescence.

Dealing with Causes and Symptoms

The therapy helps people to recover by solving the problems that lead to the depression and finding the strength to live. However, Harrington (2001) claims that the relationship between causes and outcomes is not always clear. He underlines that the cause usually include a genetic element in connection with the previous experience of the individual and the impact of stressful events. Still, we support Carroll and Rado’s idea (2009) and say that to treat the depression one needs to deal with the issue that caused it as well as with the symptoms that occurred on its basis. The consultations with the specialist that are a part of the therapeutic treatment help the patient understand what caused the disorder. While overcoming the symptoms of the depression, one also evaluates the situation and finds out what made him/her so frustrated. By removing the cause of the problem, one ensures that this very thing will not have the same effect next time. The results of the treatment will be long-lasting as the patient will not refer to the issue again.

The medications help people to deal with the symptoms of the depression. Such approach does not ensure that the disorder will not come back, as the causes of why one feels frustrates and the attitude to them do not change. The primary aim of the depression treatment with the help of medicines is to provide symptom relief (DeRubeis, et al., 2008). It is of advantage if the patient is on the edge, and immediate results are necessary. But it is better to make the person stronger and less vulnerable. Medications are not able to teach one how to behave when something bad happens and how to stand up stressful situations. Thus, they do not treat the disorder completely as the therapy does.

Consequences of Treatment

Both treating depression with therapy and medications come to an end with the release of its symptoms. Still, the overall consequences of the treatment differ. According to the results of the research conducted by DeRubeis and his colleagues, after eight weeks of treatment patients that took medicaments gained better results than those who received therapy. However, in sixteen weeks the outcomes changed, and it turned out that therapy treatment was more effective (DeRubeis et al., 2005). On this basis, we can see that the effect of antidepressants can be perceived earlier. It can be a good kind of treatment for people who have severe suicidal impulses. However, therapy is likely to create a long-lasting effect.

After the treatment with the help of the therapy, one will be able to deal with various problems using the knowledge he/she gained during the discussions and homework. This person will also be able to help others to overcome depression by attending meetings, writing blogs, answering the questions and sharing their own experience. The individual who chooses medicaments to get through the disorder will come back to the previous state without any useful knowledge or skills. One will not be able even to deal with the possible repetition of the depression independently. This individual is likely to come for the new prescription as it is always easier to cope with problems without effort.

McKinney and Maxey claim that women suffer from depression more often than men (2013). The reason for this can be their emotionality. Still, this very emotionality makes them more compassionate. Thus, they tend to help others to cope with depression. Attending group therapy, women are likely to make friends and start interacting without the sessions. They share their experience and compare notes. They also support each other on the way to recovery, which streamlines the process. Of course, these things cannot be managed while receiving medication treatment. That is one more reason one should give preference to the therapy.

Conclusion

Taking everything mentioned above into account we can come to the conclusion that treating depression with therapy is more effective than with medications. With the help of drugs, one can streamline the process of recovery, but there is an opportunity to suffer from the side effects even more than from the disorder itself. Therapy, in its turn, appears to be harmless, which is of advantage. While receiving therapy, the patient interacts with others and solves the problems that caused depression to become a new person who is ready to cope with difficulties. Drugs live one alone and only release the symptoms. During the treatment and after it, the patients tend to help each other and people within the group, which leads to the decrease of the depression issues. Still, this can be utilized only during the therapy and has nothing to do with the patients who take antidepressants. Even though this topic was already explored by several researchers, we believe that the further investigation should take place. It can be considered in the perspective of other themes (therapy/medication availability, for example). However, even the information provided in the paper is enough to give preference to therapy treatment as the more efficient one. We suggest considering this point and conducting one’s own investigation those who make up their minds to choose the most virtue depression treatment.

References

Beach, S., & Querques, J. (2011). Evaluating medication outcomes. Current Psychiatry, 10(6), 73-87.

Carroll, V., & Rado, J. (2009). Is a medical illness causing your patient’s depression? Current Psychiatry, 8(8), 45-54.

Cirakoglu, C., Kokdemir, D., & Demirutku, K. (2003). Lay theories of causes of and cures for depression in a Turkish university sample. Social Behavior and Personality, 31(8), 795–806.

DeRubeis, R., Hollon, S., Amsterdam, J., Shelton, R., Young, P., Salomon, R.,… Gallop, R. (2005). Cognitive therapy vs medications in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. Archives General Psychiatry, 62(4), 409-416.

DeRubeis, R., Siegle, G., & Hollon, S. (2008). Cognitive therapy vs. medications for depression: Treatment outcomes and neural mechanisms. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(10), 788-796.

Harrington, R. (2001). Depression, suicide and deliberate self-harm in adolescence. British Medical Bulletin, 57 (1), 47-60.

Khalid-Khan, S., & Roberts, N. (2011). Depression: Cognitive behaviour therapy with children and young people. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(10), 45-56.

Kuyken, W., Dalgleish, T., & Holden, E. (2007). Advances in cognitive-behavioural therapy for unipolar depression. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 52(1), 5-13.

McKinney, B., & Maxey, H. (2013). The holistic nature of depression: Risk factors, consequences, and treatment options. VAHPERD Journal, 34(1), 28-36.

Papakostas, G., & Fava, M. (2006). A metaanalysis of clinical trials comparing moclobemide with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 51(12), 783-790.

Rajaei, A. (2010). Religious cognitive–emotional therapy: A new form of psychotherapy. Iran Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 81–87.

Schwartz, T., Meszaros, Z., Khan, R., & Nihalani, N. (2007). How to control weight gain when prescribing antidepressants: Ignoring this side effect can increase medical risk, treatment nonadherence. Current Psychiatry 6(5), 651–662.