In a very insightful piece at the NY Times in the Well section, “To Treat Depression, Drugs or Therapy“, Dr. Richard Friedman, M.D., explores recent research which examined the manner in which people respond to either medication, therapy, or both.
It’s a question we hear a lot as we support women fighting their way through a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. The concern is valid, for a variety of reasons. Breastfeeding mothers worry about what the medicine will do to their children. All mothers worry about the stigma about being on a medication. Therapy provides its own challenges with childcare and financial being the two primary ones.
So how do you choose? Why is it that what works for one doesn’t work for another?
Turns out, according to the research Dr. Friedman examined, it comes down to our brains. The research, led by Dr. Helen Mayburg of Emory University, holds great potential for successful treatment of those of us who struggle with mental health issues.
“Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University, recently published a study in JAMA Psychiatry that identified a potential biomarker in the brain that could predict whether a depressed patient would respond better to psychotherapy or antidepressant medication.”
Read that again. A biomarker. In the brain. This vein of research, which involves imaging the brain, may one day allow us to side step the arduous task of finding the right medication for our own situations.
Go read the article, which also touches briefly toward the end on Dr. Charles Nemeroff’s research regarding the treatment response of those who endured childhood trauma. (This is also very enlightening).
Mental health will always be a challenge. How our brain works affects everything we do, everything we are, everything we hope to be. It’s a fight to get it all done. But it’s a fight worth every single breath.