Perhaps you are ready to take action to help yourself and address mental health and other concerns that have been affecting you, but what is the best way to treat these issues? The medical profession generally recommends medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. We strongly believe this is a personal decision that should be discussed with your physician, psychiatrist, or therapist, who can talk with you about your specific issues, symptoms, and diagnosis and educate you about which treatment is likely to have the best outcome for your situation. The particular diagnosis and its severity can be key in making the best choice for yourself. Below are some research findings on what tends to be the most effective type of treatment. Remember, results vary and many people have a natural preference for medication or therapy and so long as it has been shown to be effective, you are more likely to follow through with the treatment you are most comfortable with.
Depression: Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy, as well antidepressant medication have been shown to be helpful and effective treatments for depression. Often when symptoms are in the moderate to severe range, combining psychotherapy and medication may be more effective than either treatment alone. Longer term studies of recurrences have shown that psychotherapy may have a more enduring effect. People with suicidal ideation may need to be treated in a hospital for immediate stabilization.
Alcohol and Drug Disorders: Cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and 12 step support programs have all been shown to be helpful. Some addictions may also benefit from the addition of certain medications that reduce cravings or intoxicating effects.
Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorders: In most cases people will require treatment with antipsychotic or mood-stabilizer medications. These conditions result more from chemical imbalances in the brain than environmental precipitants so medication is the treatment of choice. Research does suggest that the addition of cognitive-behavioral therapy or family therapy can improve overall functioning and outcomes.
Anxiety Disorders: Research findings with anxiety often show that cognitive-behavioral therapy, antidepressant medication, and anti-anxiety medications have all been shown to be helpful and effective in treating anxiety. Findings generally show that cognitive-behavioral therapy is more effective than medications and that adding medications does not significantly improve outcomes compared to psychotherapy alone. As with depression, psychotherapy has been shown to have more enduring effects with less future episodes of anxiety recurring.
Parenting, Relationship, and Adjustment Issues: People struggling with life stressors, parent-child conflicts, or relationship problems are typically best served with psychotherapy to improve coping skills and communication skills.