Talk Therapy vs. Antidepressants: Understanding Your Treatment Options

How do Depression Treatments Compare?

In 2017, there are more ways than ever to treat depression. Quite often, patients will need to try a couple different treatment options before they find the one that they respond to most effectively. The two main categories of depression treatment are talk therapy and antidepressants. Commonly, a combination of the two are used to treat an individual case of depression.

What are Antidepressant Medicines?

The function of antidepressants is to help improve the way your brain uses chemicals that control your mood. Common antidepressants include bupropion, citalopram, fluoxetine and venlafaxine. Symptoms of depression improve in three out of every five patients who try antidepressants as their first treatment option.

Your psychiatrist can discuss the different kind of antidepressants and which one may work best for your specific needs. It is very likely you’ll have to take the antidepressant for at least 8 weeks before feeling the full effect of the treatment. It is quite important to follow your psychiatrist’s specific instructions regarding dosage and length of treatment. Never suddenly stop taking medication without first consulting your psychiatrist.

Possible Side Effects of Antidepressants

The Food and Drug Administration offers a list of possible side effects of taking antidepressants. The list includes: nausea, vomiting, weight gain, fatigue, diarrhea and trouble sleeping. In rare instances, more dangerous side effects can occur. If you have decided to start taking an antidepressant with your psychiatrist’s guidance it’s extremely important to check in with your psychiatrist regularly and report any signs of these side effects.


What is Talk Therapy?

Talk therapy encompasses several different kinds of therapy in which you talk with a certified therapist, counsellor or psychiatrist. Often, these therapy or counselling sessions happen weekly and like antidepressants should be tried for around 8 weeks to see if they’re effective. Some examples of the different talk therapy options include cognitive behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

Talking with a therapist about the issues that cause or relate to your depression can be an extremely difficult and painful process. Talk therapy is specifically designed to help work through these painful issues and to focus on healing and moving forward. If you feel your depression is getting worse as a result of talk therapy it’s important to tell your psychiatrist immediately as there are other treatment options available that may be better suited to you.

What are Some Other Treatments for Depression?

You may have heard claims that other activities and supplements can help with depression. It’s always important to discuss any treatment option with your psychiatrist before trying it yourself. Here are some other treatments for depression that are commonly asked about:

Exercise – Depending on your fitness and mobility level some exercise programs can help with depression symptoms.

Dietary Supplements – Some natural supplements like fish oil and St. John’s Wort have reportedly helped some people’s depression symptoms. However, there are serious side effects associated with these supplements and not enough scientific research has been done to conclusively say they are a safe treatment for depression.

Ketamine Therapy – Ketamine therapy has recently been in the news quite a bit because of its astonishing effect on treatment-resistant depression. If talk therapy and antidepressants do not improve a patient’s depression, ketamine therapy may be explored as a treatment option. The studies done on ketamine so far suggest that it works quickly to ease depression symptoms sometimes after only one treatment.

What Questions Should I ask Before Making This Decision?

You should work very closely with your psychiatrist to determine the best approach to improving your depression.

Here are some things to think about while making your decision:

  1. Is your depression impacting your daily life?
  2. How much time are you willing to devote towards finding a depression treatment that works for you?
  3. Will the cost of treatment impact your decision?
  4. Have you tried any depression treatments in the past?

Here are some questions to ask your Psychiatrist:

  1. Which depression treatment (or combination of treatments) do you think are the best fit for me and why?
  2. How long will it take before I feel an improvement in my symptoms?
  3. What side effects should I be aware of?
  4. If the treatment helps, how long will I need to take it for?

Are you Looking for Further Information?

You can read a more comprehensive summary in this free PDF that was produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a Federal Government Agency.

For additional information, please feel free to email our office at   To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.

Be Well,

Dr. Amanda Itzkoff

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