Therapy vs. Antidepressants – Which One is Better?

Therapy vs. Antidepressants – Which One is Better?

If you are someone who has been experiencing depression, you may recognize that you need help, but you may be confused as to what therapies will work best for you.

In today’s world, where there seems to be a pill to treat pretty much everything, many people assume that a prescribed antidepressant is the best option for them. In fact, a psychiatric review by R. Kathryn McHugh, MD of McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, found that the bulk of individuals in need of depression and/or anxiety treatment preferred pharmacological interventions to psychological at a ratio of 3:1.

From the study: “The past 10 years have seen a substantial increase in the prescription of antidepressant medications, which surpassed all others as the most commonly prescribed class of medication in the US in 2005.”

Other studies over the years have shown the advantages of skipping drugs altogether and opting instead for psychotherapy. Much of this stems from the fact that commonly prescribed antidepressants often come with a list of nasty side effects, which is not something someone suffering from depression needs to deal with.

Is One Option Better Than the Other

The short answer to that question is no. When it comes to mental health and well-being, a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work.

In my experience helping clients over the years, I have found that a good majority of them can get a handle on their depression symptoms through talk therapy without the need to prescribe any medications. Then again, there have been those clients whose symptoms were so severe, medications were required at first to help them manage. Over time and through cognitive-based therapies, we were able to eventually ween them of the drugs.

My best piece of advice would be to find a therapist you feel comfortable with and let them evaluate you to see if you are a candidate for drug therapy or not. You can then work with them to get your symptoms under control and eventually learn some tools and techniques to naturally help you cope while at the same time uncovering where the depression stems from. This being said, what I usually share with my clients who ask about medication is simply this; therapy should offer you tools to be able to cope with your issue. If you can’t pick up the tool then consider medication so that you can apply what you are learning in therapy (the tools) to your life.

If you are suffering from depression and confused about which form of therapy is right for you, let’s talk. I would be happy to discuss how we may be able to help.


To many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”- Les Brown

Michael Soto is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and CEO of BAVOY Mental Health Counseling, PLLC in Orange County New York. Our goal is to help you become the Best Adult Version Of Yourself

  1. Robin Rosenberg

    Robin Rosenberg

    November 13, 2020 at 2:44 pm -

    Hi Michael,
    I appreciate the thoughtfulness in writing about treatment for mood disorders.
    I would add that it is important to distinguish between grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, and situational depression which generally do extremely well with psychotherapy as the primary form of treatment. However, people who have a biological depression require medication. No amount of therapy will help (alone). If you tell clients that therapy will help them and it doesn’t, they just add guilt to their already long list of self-flagellating thoughts caused by their brain chemistry/circuitry. I know this from my own work as a psychotherapist but also as a family member watching loved ones go through biologically based mood disorders including depression and bipolar disorder. One last comment- it may be difficult to tell that someone has bipolar disorder because they may only present for treatment of depression and may not talk about having hypomanic or manic episodes because they don’t perceive that anything is wrong at those times. Only a thorough psycho-social assessment will uncover a biological depression or bi-polar disorder. Good luck with your group practice. Sounds like a wonderful bunch of people. PS- Kyle Winkler is a former student of mine. Please tell him I said hello and I am delighted to see where has landed in his professional career.

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