Depression tends to be a recurrent condition. Most people who experience one episode will experience another. This does not mean that depression is not treatable. Most people, two-thirds, will respond to any given treatment for depression.
Of the individuals who seek counseling for depression, many choose to start antidepressant medication. Many people choose an antidepressant medication as the only treatment for depression.
At least half of all people diagnosed with depression, at least half of people get little benefit from medication treatment. Many medical providers believe that the efficacy of antidepressants has been overstated. Many clinical trials that question medication efficacy are not published. Also, there is no evidence that medication does anything to reduce the risk of subsequent symptoms returning. Research suggests that medication treatment may not always be the best choice for first-line treatment for depression.
A case can be made that counseling can provide the same benefit and more lasting effects than medication treatment. Research supports that the individuals who responded to cognitive therapy (CT), half were as likely to relapse and experience repeated bouts of depression.
For individuals living with moderate to severe depression, please make sure that your counselor has expert training in clinical, research-based treatments for depression to ensure the best results. The benefits of counseling depend of the counselor’s competence. If a person is struggling with severe depression, medication treatment is definitely recommended.
A newer counseling treatment, behavioral activation (BA), is showing considerable results for treating depression. However, most of the research comes from the center of origin and the treatment needs to be tested by an outside clinic. When looking for a qualified counselor, ask the counselor about his or her experience providing CT and BA counseling.
Meds or counseling? Depends on the severity of the depression, if a person has the time and resources to invest in counseling to prevent relapse, and tolerance to medication side-effects.
Even though research findings vary, counselors have learned a lot about how to reduce symptoms and manage depression. Remember, depression is treatable. However, the course of treatment needs to match an individual’s expereince with depression.