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If you believe TV commercials about anti-depressant medication, you’d believe they allow all depressed individuals to smile and be happy again – despite the long list of side effects described at the end of commercials.

Unfortunately, these commercials say more about the influence of the pharmaceutical companies and the media than about the true effectiveness of these medications.

Research findings on anti-depressants aren’t nearly as optimistic.  In arguably, one of the most comprehensive studies of these medications, only 1/3 of individuals’ depressions were improved following one medication.  A second medication relieved symptoms in about 25%   That means that only a little more than one-half of depressed individuals’ depression improved after two medications.  Moreover, each trial of medication took six weeks so it took 3 months for these 50% to feel significant relief.

Exercise, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, and meditation are just a few other interventions that have been shown to be as or more effective than medication.  And improvement typically comes considerably sooner.