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Antidepressant medication and evidence-based psychotherapy have largely equivalent efficacy in the management of the common, less severe grades of depression. As a result, several national guidelines recommend that either can be used in the treatment of this disorder. Psychotherapy, however, differs in that it assists insight into how the depressed person appraises and manages the stressors that frequently trigger depressive episodes. I argue that the self-knowledge achieved through psychotherapy has moral value in that it promotes the autonomy of stressor-related decisions. I further argue that such an effect comprises a compelling moral reason for doctors to see evidence-based psychotherapy not as merely optional, but as a necessary treatment for their patients with depression.

Keywords: antidepressant; autonomy; depression; ethics; psychotherapy; treatment

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00710.x

Affiliations: Monash University

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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