By Rich Simon On the metaphorical list of “Things That Are Good for You” that the general public subscribes to, multivitamins have long occupied an unchallenged position of prominence. Backed by an industry that pulls in over $30 billion a year, supplement brands like Pfizer have claimed that their products ward off chronic illness, promote heart health, and otherwise improve on a balanced diet.
But in the classic cycle of overselling and myth debunking that nearly every health product goes through, three studies recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggest that not only are multivitamins ineffective at preventing chronic illness, they may even be harmful. And in case the studies were too subtle, the journal also published the bluntly titled editorial, “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”
Sound familiar? Therapists should be well acquainted by now with how quickly pills advertised as universally effective remedies lose some of their luster under the microscope of rigorous study. Case in point: antidepressants. While antidepressants have fallen neatly into a pop-science narrative of chemical imbalances that are corrected with the right doses of the right meds, their effectiveness when compared to placebo has been repeatedly called into question by numerous researchers over the past two decades.
What the studies do show is that psychotherapy—with or without medication—works better in the long run than antidepressants alone. And the legendary Michael Yapko summarizes the situation in this quick video clip from our all-new webcast series on the most effective treatments for depression.
So why do we see so few commercials of re-energized clients doing therapy homework or learning new cognitive behavioral skills? It may be for the same reason we see more ads for vitamin supplements than nutritionists—lifestyle interventions and habit formation are harder to sell than pills. And while supplements and medications have their place in treating illness, they aren’t a substitute for addressing the behaviors, cognitions, and relationships that all play a part in our total health.
Unfortunately, the lack of an industry-sized marketing machine for psychotherapy has cast a shadow over non-drug treatments for depression, in spite of the evidence that they work. In challenging the medical model of depression, therapists present a path to treatment that can spare clients for whom antidepressants aren’t effective wasted money, unnecessary side effects, and harmful pathologizing. And for those clients who do use antidepressants, the right therapy can prove essential in healing past trauma and learning lifelong coping skills.
Not only has our field done a poor job of informing the public of the benefits of therapeutic interventions with depression, we haven’t been very good at highlighting the latest innovations in depression treatment within our own field. But in developing the webcast series Treating the Depressed Client: The Most Effective Approaches, we’ve given therapists on the cutting edge of depression treatment a platform to share some of the most exciting ideas and techniques for working with one of the most common issues we all face in our practices.
Among the presenters in our series are David Burns, Michael Yapko, Zindel Segal, Margaret Wehrenberg, Judith Beck, and Elisha Goldstein. Whether your interest is mindfulness techniques, hypnosis, enhancing client motivation, mind-body approaches, the results in the latest psychopharmacological research, or the latest advances in cognitive approaches, you’ll find this webcast series a goldmine of immediately useful information for your practice. Just click here for more information.