Medications, Therapy, or Both? At West Maui Counseling Center, we work with lots of our Maui community members who are struggling with Clinical Depression. First and foremost, we conduct a thorough assessment during the first few appointments and obtain the correct diagnosis. From there, we are able to create an effective treatment plan together with our patient which could involve individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, family therapy, and/or psychotropic medications. If I think a medication, such as an antidepressant SSRI, could help my patient but they are really against or uncomfortable with medications, I don’t push it! It would be counterproductive and more stressful negating any therapeutic effect of the meds in the first place. Well surely that’s not going to help….

Studies show that talk therapy along with changes in diet, and most importantly increased EXERCISE, can be as effective, creating the physiological effects the brain is needing through the release of endorphins, affecting serotinergic activity. Don’t get me wrong, for some patients medications are essential. There is an abundance of evidence in the empirical literature that the combination of medications and psychotherapy is the most effective approach in treating Clinical Depression. That’s what the data says, but the key in real life practice is to be flexible, to work together through the process of recovery. For those who are resistant to trying meds, we usually agree to create a treatment plan without medications first, and see how the patient responds. Sometimes we have to change our plan but what is most important, is that we are working collaboratively toward alleviating the suffering.

One of the aspects of what I think makes my team at West Maui Counseling Center so special is that we all share this value system: We are aware and take responsibility for providing competent professional expertise, but truly believe that our patients bring an invaluable expertise to the table as well. We believe that our patients are the ultimate experts on their own internal experience, and that the combination of those two experts in the therapy room is what helps our patients conquer depression and get back to living full and healthy lives!

If you or a loved one may be suffering from depression contact us for an appointment, we are here to help.

This content was originally published here.