Friday, May 19, 2006

Treat Your Own Depression

Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle found that patients who chose their own depression treatment had better outcomes than those whose treatment was determined by their physician alone. The study of 335 adults who had a clinical diagnosis of depression appears in the October issue of the Annals of Behavior Medicine.

Of the participants, most were male with an average age of 57. They were allowed to choose from a treatment plan that included medication alone, psychotherapy alone or both. It was determined that 72 percent who were recieving treatment according to their preference showed a more rapid improvement in the symptoms of depression.

In telephone interviews at one week, three months, and nine months, patients were assessed on functional status, severity of depression, the amount depression interferes with their lives, and changes in health outcomes and treatment preferences. Most showed improvement in all categories at the three and nine month intervals, and depression did improve for patients in both groups. Researchers feel the positive impact was more noticeable in the early months of treatment. And although not saying for certain, they feel the preference-matched patients were better able to stick with their treatment in the early stages.

15 percent of those who preferred medication alone were older and more likely to be white and married than the 24 percent who used psychotherapy alone, or the 60 percent who preferred both. They also found that African-American patients were less likely than whites to find either treatment acceptable, and Hispanic patients were less likely to find medicaiton acceptable. The majority preferred some type of active treatment.

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