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Quick Study

QUICK STUDY : A weekly digest of new research on major health topics

Tuesday, April 12, 2005; Page HE06


Talk therapy and medication appear to offer similar results.

THE QUESTION Moderate to severe depression is often treated with medication. More recently, a form of talk therapy called cognitive therapy (CT) has become popular. Is one method more effective than the other?

THIS STUDY randomly assigned 240 adults with moderate to severe depression to take the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) daily or participate in CT. Some people had their medication supplemented with lithium or desipramine. Those in the talk therapy group attended an average of two 50-minute sessions a week. After 16 weeks, standard depression rating scales showed that 58 percent of those in both groups had responded to treatment. About 46 percent of those in the antidepressant group and 40 percent of the CT group were considered in remission. A 12-month follow-up study indicated that those who had stopped CT sessions after 16 weeks were less likely to relapse than those who had stopped taking antidepressants and no more likely than people who had continued to take medication.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? People with moderate to severe depression. Nearly 10 percent of adults in the United States are diagnosed with depression each year, women twice as often as men.

CAVEATS Results from CT may vary with the therapists' expertise.

BOTTOM LINE People with depression may want to discuss both treatment options with a doctor.

FIND THIS STUDY April issue of Archives of General Psychiatry; abstract available online at www.archgenpsychiatry.com.

LEARN MORE ABOUT depression at www.nimh.nih.govand www.depression-screening.org.

nerve pain

Combining drugs seems to achieve better results.

THE QUESTION Diabetes and shingles can both lead to nerve damage and considerable pain. How do drugs commonly used to control this type of pain compare when used separately and in combination?

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