Pharmacotherapy vs. Psychotherapy in the management of depression and anxiety disorders

Asta Prajapati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Evidence-based practice advocates decisions based on evidence. While pharmacotherapy had been a mainstay in the management of depression and anxiety disorders in the past, psychological interventions (like counselling and psychotherapy) are gaining in popularity and approval from public and healthcare professionals alike. The evidence- bases for comparing these two very different treatment modalities are often complex and sometimes contradictory.  
Aims: This article aims to explore the evidence-based behind these two treatment modalities with respect to the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.  
Method and outcome: A literature review was carried out in Medline searching only systematic reviews and meta-analyses, comparing psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for depression and anxiety disorders. Six systematic reviews on depression and four on anxiety disorders were found. There were also several other pertinent articles that were consulted.  
Conclusion: The current evidence base suggests that pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, especially CBT, may be equally effective in the treatment of depression and in most anxiety disorders, although any firm or definitive evidence-base would require further direct comparative studies. However, this presumes one is comparing like-with-like, which is not necessarily the case.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalInternational Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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