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Healthline: Therapy vs. Antidepressants | Which Is Best for People With Heart Disease?

Healthline recently interviewed Waguih IsHak, MD, vice chair of Education and Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai, about the results of a recent study that found behavioral activation therapy can be as effective as medication at improving symptoms of depression in people with heart failure. 

Behavioral activation therapy engages patients in various activities—such as taking a walk, socializing with friends or volunteering—to stave off the social isolation and negative feelings that are symptoms of depression.

IsHak, first author of the Cedars-Sinai study, told Healthline that the findings provide a new treatment option for patients with heart failure and depression.

Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump as much blood as the body needs. Because the condition can negatively impact quality of life, about half of the 6 million U.S. adults with heart failure also experience symptoms of depression.

“When most people get depressed, they start to become less active,” IsHak told Healthline. “And the less active they get, they get more depressed. Behavioral activation is the exact opposite. You basically load up your day on a regular basis with these activities that you enjoy doing. This empowers people to try out a treatment that is non-pharmacological, has less cardiac risk, and is just as effective.”

IsHak said that people with heart failure may already be taking several medications, so they may be reluctant to seek treatment for depression out of concern that they will need to take even more.

“The implication here is that not everybody has to get on antidepressants,” IsHak told Healthline. “That actually, patients have a choice.”

Click here to read the complete article in Healthline.