There are many different views on depression, what causes it, and how it should be treated. The two most common options for depression treatment are medication and therapy (Lambert, 2006). These have been used for some time, mostly because they seem to have the highest rates of success. However, some people think that coupling them is the best choice while others feel that only one at a time is what is going to work. There are two points-of-view: that therapy works to "fix" depression, and that medication is what is required to correct depression problems in the population. Both of these are valid points-of-view, and both have their merits. However, whether only one is correct, one has more merit than the other, or a different (or combined) approach should be taken still has to be addressed in order to ensure that depression treatments are properly understood. In order to address the issue, both points-of-view will be discussed. First, medication will be discussed, followed by therapy, in an effort to determine which (if any) treatment is "best."
Medications have been a popular choice for depression for years (Sharp & Lipsky, 2002; Walker, 1997). Originally, many depressed people were given medications that relaxed them, such as valium. This was done because these people were also often anxious, and the goal was to keep them from being anxious and worrying about things, so that their worries would not lead to depression (Lambert, 2006). While that sounds good on the surface, the problem was that some medications were making these patients more depressed than they were before they started taking the medications (Lambert, 2006). In order to correct that problem, other medications were created that were designed to lift mood. Some of these were very successful, and others did not provide as much benefit (Lambert, 2006). Many doctors thought that providing depressed people with these medications would help them live happier lives that were more normal and functional from a societal standpoint.
Of course, not everyone thought that it was a good idea to give depressed people medications. Some believed that medication was only masking the symptoms and was not really correcting the problems (Lambert, 2006). Newer medications were created to address a chemical imbalance in the brain, but did all people with depression have that imbalance? Were there other causes for depression? It all depended on which doctor was asked the question or which research study was examined. With that being the case, doctors debated and argued amongst themselves as to which kind of treatment should be used and whether it should be the same for everyone who appeared to be depressed (Sharp & Lipsky, 2002). Agreement was scarce, as well, because not every doctor felt that medication was the right choice and not every doctor felt that therapy was viable (with or without medication as an addition).
Therapy is the other way that people are treated for depression, and some doctors feel as though therapy is the best (and only) choice for those who are depressed and who seek out treatment (Lambert, 2006; Walker, 1997). There is no doubt that therapy has been shown to be effective for some people who have depression. These individuals attend therapy at different levels and for different lengths of time, but they simply attend sessions and do not take any medications for their depressive condition. Part of the concern with only offering therapy (or medication) for depression is that depression means different things to different people (Lambert, 2006). Some people with depression are more severely depressed than others, and that matters in how they are treated. If a person is suicidal, he or she may need more than what a mildly depressed person would require. It is also possible that some medications will work for some people and not for others.
Points-of-view on depression treatment are always going to vary. It does not seem as though they will ever come into agreement - and that is actually quite logical when the entire issue of depression is examined. In other words, individuals who have issues with depression are still people first and their condition second. What works for one person may not be effective at all for another person (Lambert, 2006; Walker, 1997). Attempting to have only one point-of-view on depression is doing a big disservice to those who are depressed and reaching out for help. By sticking to the medication or therapy only viewpoints, doctors are overlooking what might actually help many of their patients (Sharp & Lipsky, 2002; Walker, 1997). Still, doctors have to be careful with their viewpoints on depression. They should not be too quick to give someone a pill and dismiss them, when talking things out may be what the person really need. Additionally, they should not assume that medication would be a poor choice for their patient unless the patient has a clear reason for being a poor candidate for any type of depression medication (Lambert, 2006; Sharp & Lipsky, 2002).
Since there will be no agreement on how a person should be treated when he or she has depression, the patient will have to determine whether he or she wants to take the opinion of a particular doctor or see a different doctor. Patients do not have to automatically do what the doctor says, and with that in mind a patient who is depressed should be open to trying remedies but should also be clear on which types of remedies he or she would prefer. Some people do not like the idea of therapy because it makes them very uncomfortable, and other people do not like taking medication because they are concerned about side effects. Differing opinions on depression treatments mean patients have choices (Lambert, 2006). These patients would be better off considering their choices carefully so that they are able to get the best treatment possible for their condition.
As for insight into and reflection on the issue, doctors must realize that they need to be aware of their patients on a more personal level. It can be very easy to see the patient as only his or her condition, instead of seeing that patient as a person who may be sick and frightened. Until the patient is treated properly for depression and any other, related conditions, that person may have trouble making decisions to help himself or herself get better. A doctor's advice can be appreciated during that time, but only if the doctor is offering a high level of care and support. For some people, in other words, the care they are getting is not in their best interest because the doctor providing that care simply wants to give them a pill and send them back out into society. That does not always work for a depressed person, as that person may need much more help and support than would be seen otherwise, during a time when that person was feeling happier and stronger.
Underestimating the value of therapy instead of or in addition to medication is something that doctors and patients simply should not do. It is always a good idea to explore any and all options that are realistic when a person is seeking treatment for any kind of condition, and a mental health condition is no different. Whether depression is the person's primary diagnosis or there are other problems that are contributing to the level of unhappiness and unease the person is feeling, getting the depression under control can restore a better quality of life to that person and allow him or her to begin tackling some of the other life problems that he or she is facing. Naturally, it can be hard for a doctor to get to the bottom of all of that with a new patient - but that does not mean the doctor should not take the time to make a determination as to whether medication or therapy might work best. Really listening to the needs and wants of the patient can be a big help to a doctor who may be trying to do the right thing but also in a hurry and uncertain as to the best course of action.
Diagnosing and treating depression is a serious part of the work of a psychologist. There are many other mental health problems and conditions that have to be addressed, but depression is a significant problem that affects a relatively large percentage of the population. Depression is also becoming more prevalent (Lambert, 2006). More and more people are coming forward and seeking out treatment for depression. Whether there are actually more depressed people today or whether they are simply speaking out in greater numbers remains to be seen, but it is clear that there are issues that are being faced by many people today - and those people are struggling with those issues. Overall, that is a big reason for those who are interested in psychology to move forward with their careers…