Even though countless studies show that psychotherapy helps people living with depression and anxiety, drug therapy has become the most popular course of treatment over the past decade. APA is hoping to balance that trend with an initiative that will educate consumers about psychotherapy's effectiveness and encourage them to ask their physicians about it as a treatment option.
"We get a lot of information about drug therapy from commercials and pop culture, but we hear much less about the alternatives," says Katherine Nordal, PhD, executive director of professional practice at APA. "Mental illness and depression get a lot of attention during October because it's depression awareness month and that gives us a good opportunity to highlight the benefits of psychotherapy for these disorders. While medication can be an appropriate part of treatment, people should know that psychotherapy works."
APA is introducing an animated video series about a fictional miracle drug called "Fixitol." The videos are a parody of drug ads, drawing attention to the value of psychotherapy as a treatment option. The association is also providing resources on depression, how psychotherapy works and how to talk to your physician about getting started.
"Hundreds of studies have found that psychotherapy is an effective way to help people make positive changes in their lives. Compared with medication, psychotherapy has fewer side effects and lower instances of relapse when discontinued," Nordal says. "We hope that, with the right information, more people with depression will explore their treatment options to create a plan that gives them the skills they need to manage their condition."
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. According to government health agencies, an estimated one in 10 adults reports having depression. Mental health problems lead to more than 150 million visits to physician offices, clinics and hospital outpatient departments each year, making it one of the top three reasons why Americans seek medical treatment. Between 1996 and 2008, the number of prescriptions for antidepressants more than doubled from 55.9 million to 154.7 million.
APA encourages people experiencing depression, stress or anxiety to ask their health-care providers about psychotherapy when discussing treatment options. Psychotherapy provides a supportive environment that allows patients to talk openly about their personal health and emotional situations and gives patients skills and tools to manage stress, depression and anxiety over the long term.