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People Who Choose their Depression Treatment Do Better

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Updated November 03, 2005

Updated November 03, 2005

It's important for patients to play a role in their treatment decisions. There is even evidence that patients who choose their own treatment for depression have better outcomes than patients whose treatment is determined by their physicians alone.

Researchers in Seattle studied 335 adults who were diagnosed with depression. The study was conducted on veterans who were overwhelmingly male with an average age of 57. Patients chose from a menu of treatment that included medication alone, psychotherapy alone or both. 72 percent of the patients were receiving treatment that matched their preferences. These patients showed more rapid improvement in symptoms of depression.

To see whether the effects lasted, the patients were assessed at one week, three months and nine months. Patients who received the treatment that they asked for were more functional, less depressed, better able to work, and more healthy three months and nine months out.

Fifteen percent of patients preferred medication alone. These patients were older and more likely to be white and married than the 24 percent who preferred psychotherapy alone or the 60 percent who preferred both. African-American patients were less likely than white patients to find either treatment acceptable and Hispanic patients were less likely to find medication acceptable.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 18.8 million American adults (9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older) have a depressive disorder in a given year. If you are depressed, talk with your doctor about how you want to be treated. You'll likely do better if you get the treatment that you want.

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