Medication or talking therapy – what’s right for me?
Exploring the pros and cons of each
Every few months, when a new study comes out, the tide turns as to which is better – medication or talking therapy. Since we have medically-trained clinical experts who are adept in all forms of treatments, from light-touch solutions like simple dietary changes, through to treatment plans that require medication and even medical intervention, we aren’t biased towards one type of solution over another.
In this article, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of different methods, so you can get a feel for what’s out there and familiarise yourself with the possibilities.
Medication, or medication combined with talking therapy
Many patients experience results from a combination of medication and talking therapy for depression and anxiety. Treatment that consists solely of finding and taking the right medication can also be very effective, and sometimes provides results faster than talking therapy alone. However, it often takes a fair bit of trial and error to find the right medication that produces the least amount of side effects.
Interestingly, in a recent survey of Consumer Reports readers , 50% of those surveyed tried two or more drugs before they found the right antidepressant, while 10% of those surveyed tried five or more.
Side effects were also more commonly discovered than noted in the product’s packaging. 40% discovered that they noticed a temporary drop in their libido, while 20% said that they had gained weight. However, when combined with talking therapy, people notice that these changes are not long term.
Medication is also used to treat a wider range of mental health issues, that go beyond anxiety and depression. As Dr Tom Pennybacker explains , medication helps treat anxiety, depression, bipolar, ADHD and schizophrenia.
Neurologist Helen Mayberg, of the University of Toronto, has found that there are unique metabolic changes produced by the use of talking therapies alone, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). By providing patients with an ability to detect troubling emotional thoughts (that lead to undesirable behaviours) and by teaching them how to switch off the rumination that occurs around those thoughts (which subsequently stops undesirable behaviours), Mayberg has been able to scientifically prove that talking therapy alone can rewire the depression network within our brains.
“Cognitive therapy is tapping into a different part of the same depression circuit board,” Mayberg explained in a recent interview with America’s Psychology Today .
In a recent study conducted by the NHS , CBT was again found to be as effective for moderate to severe depression as antidepressant medication. 11 studies were conducted in total, involving 1,511 patients and concluded that while CBT is highly effective, people should ultimately be offered a choice of treatment.
Choice of treatment – things to consider
When weighing up what sort of treatment plan will be right for you, we first study many considerations. After a thorough assessment of several life factors, including family dynamics, the stress of your daily life, diet, exercise, physical ailments and what kind of medications you may currently be on, we then work to create a plan that’s tailored to your needs.
If you have a preference for the style of treatment you’d like to receive, then please do let us know and we’ll do our best to factor that in. The other essential factor to consider is determining what level of effort you can put into improving your mental wellbeing. Certain avenues of treatment, like talking therapies, may require more effort and dedication on your part. Plus, it’s also important to consider time – are you looking for more immediate solutions, or can you work with longer timeframes?
How many sessions are required for CBT?
As Dr Catherine Atnas explains , the number of sessions required varies, depending on your unique needs. On average, people require between 12 – 20 sessions, with some needing more, and some people requiring as few as six sessions.
If you would like to discuss your unique mental health needs, then please do contact us for a confidential chat.