1. Psychotherapy as good as antidepressant drugs

    Beat depression without drugs

    I'm not always impressed by studies that find a depression treatment works as well as antidepressant drugs because the drugs themselves often can't beat placebos in many studies.

    And if the drug can't beat a placebo, then any treatment that works "as well" as that drug is also, at the end of the day, only about as good as a placebo.

    So bear that in mind when you read about a new study that finds psychotherapy works -- because the review of 198 published studies finds that it works about as well as many common (ineffective) antidepressant drugs.

    Supposedly, seven different forms of psychotherapy -- including both group sessions and face-to-face sessions -- all work equally well, although some may be better for certain patients than others.

    The study also finds that these treatments are equally effective in younger patients, older patients, and even new mothers battling the baby blues.

    Now, while any form of psychotherapy is certainly preferable to drugs in most cases, neither treatment -- talk therapy or medication -- will do anything to address the real roots of depression.

    And that's why patients who rely on either drugs or psychotherapy never really get cured -- not for long, anyway, which is why they often end up back in therapy or back on drugs.

    You might even know a few people who've been in and out of therapy or on and off of drugs over the years.

    I prefer to address the roots of depression -- and when depression is not caused by an obvious life event such as the loss of a loved one, it's usually caused by nutritional deficiencies and/or hormonal imbalances.

    Drugs won't fix that, and neither will psychotherapy.

    A holistic physician can run some tests to determine what's causing your depression -- and once you know the cause, you can work on the cure with either natural hormonal supplementation or brain-friendly nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.

    PS: When it seems like no one can help ease your depression, remember that there is always someone who can -- and He makes house calls whenever you ask. Prayer is some of the strongest medicine around, so don't be afraid to give it a try when you need it most.

  2. Phone calls therapy can help chase depression away

    The phone call that can chase depression away

    It could be the easiest way yet to beat depression -- just pick up the phone and dial it away.

    OK, it's not quite that simple. But a new study finds it could work for many of the people who try it.

    Northwestern University assigned depressed patients to either 18 weeks of phone-based treatments or 18 weeks of the more traditional face-to-face sessions.

    Patients in both groups improved, with those who got face-to-face treatments doing an average of 3 points better on a 52-point scale of depression symptoms.

    But phone therapy did better in another -- and maybe more critical -- area: The patients assigned to it were more likely to stick with it. Four out of five in the phone therapy group completed all eighteen weeks of the study, versus four out of six among those who got the in-person treatments.

    It's an important difference because actually getting to the therapist's office often stops people from getting treatment. For some, it's the hassle or even lack of a car. But for many others, the depression itself makes it so they don't want to leave the house.

    Whatever the reason, telephone treatments remove that obstacle. And since they involve cognitive behavioral therapy instead of meds, I'm all for giving it a try.

    But it's important to note that this will only work for cases where depression is caused by true psychological factors, such as a lost job or traumatic life event -- the kind of people who need a friendly ear and some advice on how to manage their own emotional responses.

    And if that's you, it could be worth a shot.

    But many if not most depression cases are caused by undiagnosed nutritional and/or hormonal problems -- and there's not a psychotherapist in the world able to fix those.

    That's why I recommend getting a complete nutritional and hormonal workup from a holistic doctor if you're depressed, especially if you don't know why.

    If you're in the southern California area, you can contact my clinic through for some of the most advanced testing available.

  3. Antidepressants fail another trial

    There's no two ways about it: When it comes to beating depression, that last thing you want is your doctor's first choice. Tell him you're down in the dumps, and he'll reach for his prescription pad -- but the dirty secret about the depression meds used by some 30 million Americans every year is that they just don't work.

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