Talk therapy or medication for depression? A brain scan can tell you now.

Many people suffering from depression might have often wondered what the right treatment for this common mental illness is. Medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two? 

Research scientists from Emory University located in Atlanta, the United States, have conducted a study to predict the best treatment for depression. As per the study, specific brain activity patterns using brain scans can indicate what type of treatment is more effective for a person suffering from depression.

The study included 344 patients who were randomly selected. They were given twelve weeks of either antidepressants or cognitive behavior therapy(CBT). Functional MRI scans (fMRI) of patients were taken before and after twelve weeks of treatment to analyze the degree of functional connectivity between the emotion processing center and three other areas of the brain.  The fMRI scans revealed the outcome of the treatment. It was seen that patients with positive functional connectivity between the brain regions were more likely to respond to CBT effectively while antidepressants were more effective in those with negative or absent connectivity.

Given the current scenario where the choice of medication versus psychotherapy is based on the preference of the psychiatrist or the person suffering from depression, this is a breakthrough study. Replication of such studies in India as well; can help psychiatrists and patients to identify whether medication or psychotherapy is more suitable in recovery from depression.  

The study results were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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