Q. I’ve been depressed recently but don’t want to take antidepressants. Isn’t psychotherapy equally effective?
A. Your brain is as unique as your thumbprint so there’s no way of knowing ahead of time which modality will be most effective for you. In his book Prozac Backlash, Dr. Glenmullen quoted studies that showed antidepressants usually begin to work within 1-6 weeks, while psychotherapy usually takes 6-8 weeks. In some studies there were no differences in overall responses observed (e.g., drugs versus therapy). I believe it is important to determine underlying causes or factors that have contributed to your depression (insofar as it is possible to do so) and address them. Cooperate with your healthcare professional to craft a treatment plan that is effective for your brain. This may include both counseling and medication. Some researchers believe that both modalities are important: antidepressants can put a “floor” under the individual to provide some stability and increase in serotonin, while concurrent psychotherapy can help the person to develop strategies for managing underlying causes and for developing a positive mindset.