Priscilla Hernandez describes her world as going completely black…deep, dark depression zapped away all signs of life, energy, hope and motivation.

“I was I think as depressed as you can get, where my thinking really was i think the only way to describe it was the bottom of the barrel and then some.  So my depression was, it was impacting not just me but my family and my ability to pretty much do almost anything,” says Priscilla.


Initially, Priscilla tried cognitive therapy.  She went to a therapist who helped her work through her emotions. She says it did the trick, but only temporarily.  Another round of depression hit making her feel like her life was spiraling out of control.  She then turned to anti-depressant medication.

“I needed something to really jump start me.  I was in a very, very bad state so I needed something to help me quickly,” says Priscilla.


Now, new research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry confirms that switching from psychotherapy to antidepressant medication or vice versa may improve symptoms in chronically depressed patients who are unresponsive to their initial treatment.


Dr. Jonathan Stewart, a research psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute explains that depending on the patient and the severity of depression, a change in treatment could make all the difference. 

“That’s my experience with depression.  One person will respond to something that somebody else doesn’t.  The person that didn’t respond to say cognitive therapy may respond to medication and vice versa,” reports Dr. Stewart.


Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine studied chronically depressed patients who were treated with an antidepressant or cognitive therapy.  If unresponsive to either treatment, patients made the switch.


In other research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Robert DeRubeis compared the efficacy of antidepressant medications with cognitive therapy and found that for the initial treatment of moderate to severe depression, cognitive therapy may be as effective as medication.





“There’s some hint that we’re getting in our research that tells us that there’s some interference that can come from taking the medications the motivation may not be there to work hard and cognitive therapy or any effective form of psychotherapy is gong to be hard work, it’s going to require disclosing personal facts about yourself,” says Dr. Rob DeRubeis, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.


Although therapy did help, Priscilla says when her depression became so unbearable making the switch to medication saved her life.

“If I did not do something, I really don’t think I would be here speaking to you today,” says Priscilla.


Medical experts say it’s important for family members and friends of a person who is battling depression to understand that it is a real illness.  Patience and emotional support can make a big difference in helping your loved one heal and overcome their depression.