New discoveries about depression could lead to more behavior therapy; scientists have discovered that antidepressants and cognitive therapy work in different ways, and on opposite sides of the brain

New discoveries about depression could lead to more behavior therapy; scientists have discovered that antidepressants and cognitive therapy work in different ways, and on opposite sides of the brain – Mental Health …

Despite the more lasting benefits of therapy, the use of antidepressants is rising steadily, reflecting the push by insurers to have patients treated by primary-care physicians rather than specialists. But pills exert their effect only as long as a patient takes them, and the risk of relapse in the coming year is 80%, compared with 25% for patients in cognitive therapy. Neuroscientists in Canada compared two groups of patients, one taking antidepressants and the other receiving therapy. The results agreed with past studies, finding that comparable improvement took place. But brain scans showed that each treatment had affected a different part of the brain. Pills, they found, worked to reduce activity in the brain’s emotion or limbic centers. Therapy worked on the cortex, which is the seat of higher thought, giving patients an “override capacity,” explained one psychiatrist, “so when sad feelings bubble up from the brain’s emotion centers, people can resist being drawn down into depression.” These findings can lead the way, says this article, to combining the two treatments more effectively to give patients a better chance at overcoming depression for good.

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