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Depression Health Center

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Survey: Talk Therapy as Good as Antidepressants

Consumer Reports Survey Shows Both Treatments Are Effective for Depression and Anxiety

Tracking Depression and Anxiety continued...

The respondents who took SSRIs found them about as helpful as those taking SNRIs, with 53% of those on SSRIs saying they helped a lot and 49% of those on SNRIs saying that.

The side effects, Metcalf's team found, were higher than what is typically reported in drug company studies; 31% of those on SSRIs and 36% of those on SNRIs reported sexual side effects.

The first drug tried didn't always work, the readers reported; they took a median (half more, half fewer) of three.

Of the 45% of respondents who turned to talk therapy, either alone or with medication, 46% said the therapy sessions had made their condition "a lot better," while 45% termed things ''somewhat better."

Overall, a psychiatrist got a somewhat higher helpfulness score from the readers. But in general, the advantages of talk therapy were consistent whether the therapist was a psychologist, social worker, or licensed counselor.

Those who stuck with the talk therapy for seven sessions or more had better results than those who completed fewer.

When single vs. combined treatment was considered, taking into account how helpful readers found their therapist or doctor, how much change they reported in emotional health, and other factors, those who used drugs and engaged in talk therapy for at least seven visits fared the best, according to Metcalf.

Second Opinion

In response to the survey results (including the finding of fewer side effects with Prozac than with Cymbalta), Charles McAtee, a spokesman for Eli Lilly and Company, which makes both of the drugs, says in a statement: "Depression is a highly individualized illness. Treatment decisions, including what type of treatment is appropriate for a given patient, are best determined by the health care professional and patient working together and based on the individual patient's needs."

''As with any medication," McAtee states, "Prozac and Cymbalta can include side effects, so patients should speak with their doctor about the risks and benefits of any antidepressant medication before starting treatment."

The report offers some good information, but there's a caveat, says Harold Pincus, MD, vice chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University, New York, who has researched and published on trends in depression treatment.

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