I’m Dr Emma Gray, and I’m the Lead Clinical
Psychologist at the British CBT & Counselling Service.
And in this video, I’m going to talk about the best treatments for depression.
Now, by 2020, depression is going to be the second most disabling condition, after heart
disease. Currently, we have 2 treatments that are effective—medication and therapy. And
I’m going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Let’s start with medication. So, the biological origins of depression are still relatively
unclear. Some biological factors have been identified as important, but, despite a lot
of research, a single biological cause has yet to be pinned down. And this, of course,
makes developing a medication that’s effective for everybody quite hard. So the process of
prescribing medication—getting the dose right—is often a process of trial and error.
The advantages of medication are that it’s relatively faster to have an effect, so most
people will get the full positive impact after about 6 to 8 weeks (however, some people can
start to notice a difference after 2), medication is readily available (your GP can just prescribe
it for you), and there’s no time investment (no self-exploration or life changes are required).
The disadvantages of medication are, as I’ve said, getting the right drug, at the right
dose, is hard sometimes. And then, not everybody is going to notice a difference—these medications
don’t work for everybody. And there are some side effects including weight gain, sexual
dysfunction, gastrointestinal problems, and you can feel quite drowsy on these medications.
Now, over time, some of these side effects can lessen, but some still do persist. The
final disadvantage is that these medications don’t resolve the underlying cause of depression—so,
often when you stop the medication, your problems will return.
The alternative to medication is therapy. Currently, the most effective therapy for
depression is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy—or CBT.
The advantages of this type of therapy are that it helps you to resolve the underlying
problems. So over the longer-term, it’s more effective than medication. It can also help
people for whom medication didn’t work. The disadvantages of therapy are that it does
require a time commitment, it does require self-exploration, and it does require life
change. It also takes a little longer to work than medication.
In terms of my recommendations, both medication and therapy are legitimate treatments for
depression. But what I would recommend is that, if you’re struggling with mild-to-moderate
difficulties, you try a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. If your problems are
more severe, and by severe I mean that you’re struggling to function on a day-to-day basis,
I would start with a combination of medication and therapy, and then, over the medium to
longer-term, work to reduce your medication and continue with your therapy.
I hope that I’ve been able to answer all of your questions on this topic, but if I haven’t,
please post them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to help.
And I’ll see you soon.