Chadwick Royal over at Brain Blogger asked the equivalent of “Where’s the beef?” in an entry this week commenting about the National Institute of Mental Health’s press release on the use of CBT after medications in teens reduces relapse. Royal asked why this is considered “news” when the fact that psychotherapy + medication = better outcomes is well known amongst most clinicians and researchers.

Here’s why — the general public (and many medical doctors) still don’t get the message, so it’s news to many. The National Institute of Mental Health serves not just researchers and clinicians, it also serves to help promote general information and news about mental health research. Especially with regards to what “works.”

In the U.S., consumers are constantly bombarded with pharmaceutical advertising describing the many benefits of different psychiatric medications (“Depression hurts…” No duh!). But consumers get no marketing about the benefits of psychotherapy, and often still have old, stigmatizing misconceptions about how it works and how expensive it is. (No, you don’t lie down on a couch and no, it doesn’t take 10 years before psychotherapy starts helping.)

Information about research that touts the benefits of psychotherapy (alone or when combined with an appropriate psychiatric medication) is ultimately helpful to the public, because knowledge is power. And while researchers and clinicians might take for granted that this approach — psychotherapy plus meds — is the most beneficial for most people with most mental health concerns, it’s a message that’s still not well-accepted or understood amongst the general public.

And I daresay it’s also not well-accepted among many primary care physicians and general practitioners, who rarely push psychotherapy treatment onto their patients, but have little problem prescribing a plethora of psychiatric medications.

Read the entry: Therapy and Medication – Where’s the Breaking News?