What’s the “better” option when treating depression? Is medication or psychotherapy more effective?
The answer is both.
Several studies have shown that combining medication and psychotherapy yields the best therapeutic outcomes. It makes sense if you think about it. Both approaches to treating depression target different things. Antidepressants help balance neurotransmitters, and therapy enables you to discover your negative thought patterns and arms you with healthy ways of changing them.
Both are effective separately, but you may see the best results when combined. However, you may hesitate to commit to medication and therapy immediately. That’s understandable.
You want to choose the best depression treatment option suited to your needs. It’s best to partner with a medical professional to determine the best course of treatment. However, understanding the benefits of each therapy approach and the combined therapies may give you an idea of what you need.
Benefits of Therapy for Depression
One of the most essential benefits of therapy for depression is its effectiveness. In fact, research shows that as many as 75% of people who attend therapy see benefits after six months.
Some of these benefits include the following:
- Gain insight and understanding in a safe space: You can discuss your challenging emotions, thoughts, and feelings in a safe environment during therapy sessions. This is crucial when you struggle with depression because you may feel too ashamed or embarrassed about how you feel. (Although it’s important to note: depression is not your fault, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.)
- Develop healthy coping skills and strategies: Your therapist can help you formulate a plan of action to face your challenging thoughts and emotions. They’ll arm you with healthy coping skills and techniques to work through what’s troubling you. What you learn in therapy will not only help you while you are enrolled, but you’ll use what you know far into the future.
- Achieve emotional regulation: When you deal with depression, you likely have trouble managing your emotions in healthy ways. And when you experience emotional dysregulation, you are also likely to experience mood fluctuations. Therapy for depression can help you recognize and manage your emotions using safe, practical, and helpful strategies.
- Improve relationships: If you have depression, you’re already aware of its impact on your relationships with others. Therapy can help enhance interpersonal skills, mend bridges, communicate effectively, and navigate social interactions.
- Increase self-awareness: Your therapist can help you better understand the root causes of your depression, potential triggers, and thought and behavior patterns. You’ll discover how your current unhealthy patterns are preventing you from living the fulfilling life you desire.
Benefits of Medication for Depression
Medication for depression may not be suitable for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. How antidepressants work isn’t fully understood, but they are believed to increase the neurotransmitters or chemicals in your brain to improve mood and emotion. And when serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels increase, depression and anxiety symptoms tend to diminish.
It’s essential to discuss potential depression medications with your doctor or mental health clinician to determine the best option for you. It’s also important to note that not all individuals respond to antidepressants similarly.
At BOLD Health, when we use combined therapies like medication and psychotherapy, we closely monitor your tolerance, potential side effects, and effectiveness.
Some of the benefits of medication for depression include the following:
- Relieves symptoms: Antidepressants target the neurotransmitter imbalance in your brain to help alleviate your symptoms. They can help treat low moods, feelings of hopelessness, and lack of energy.
- Motivates you to make positive lifestyle changes: When you deal with depression, it’s tough to get up the motivation to exercise, eat well, do things you love, and have a social life. Because antidepressants can alleviate symptoms of depression, keeping you from living a fulfilling life.
- Improves functioning: Taking antidepressants can enhance concentration, motivate you, and improve your cognitive functioning. In turn, you’ll see better work and school performance and improvement in your ability to complete daily activities.
- Reduces the risk of self-harm: If your depression symptoms include self-harm or suicidal thoughts, medication for depression can reduce those thoughts and feelings.
- Customizable: There are several types of depression medication. Not all are suited for you; not all will achieve the desired result. The good news about antidepressants is that the type and dose are highly customizable to your needs.
- Improves your quality of life: Reducing the negative impact of depression symptoms means you’ll experience improved relationships, functioning, and enjoyment in life.
Benefits of the Combination of Medication and Therapy for Depression
From what we’ve addressed so far, you can see how both medication and therapy can help in your depression battle in different ways. You can also see how combined therapies would benefit you the most. When you put two effective methods of depression treatment together, the result is a powerful approach to fighting and overcoming what’s holding you back from living the life you deserve.
In one study, 81% of participants experienced an 81% success rate when using combined therapies compared to 51% who used antidepressants alone.
Combined therapies, often referred to as “integrated treatment,” offers several benefits for treating depression, including the following:
- Enhanced effectiveness: While we mentioned this before, it’s important to note how, when used in conjunction with one another, medication and therapy fight depression on two different playing fields. Medication reduces symptoms, while therapy helps you understand and work through what’s causing them. Together, the combined therapies are incredibly effective.
- Faster relief: Depression medication can take time to build up in your system to experience any therapeutic effects. But when combined with therapy for depression, while you wait for the medication to work effectively, you can feel some relief by developing coping skills, identifying negative thought patterns, and learning healthier ways to manage emotions.
- Reduced relapse rates: Studies have shown that combining therapy and medication results in lower relapse rates than antidepressants alone.
- Minimized side effects: Some studies show that those participating in combined therapies feel fewer potential side effects from medication. By incorporating therapy into your depression treatment plan, you may be able to take lower doses of medication and still achieve positive outcomes. This, too, can result in fewer side effects.
- Holistic treatment: The combined therapies of medication and psychotherapy is a holistic approach, meaning it addresses both the biological and psychological aspects of depression. By taking this comprehensive approach, you can experience a more balanced and sustainable recovery from depression.
Choose BOLD Health for Depression Treatment in San Diego
At BOLD Health, we know you want to feel better. And we can help. We offer several options for depression therapy in San Diego, including:
- individual therapy
- group therapy
- medication management
- intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- ketamine treatment for depression
For depression therapy in San Diego, we ensure you receive personalized, compassionate care. We take the time to get to know and understand all of you, not just your symptoms. Together, we’ll develop an ideal program explicitly suited to your needs.