The impact of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and their combination on quality of life in depression

Waguih William Ishak, Khanh Ha, Nina Kapitanski, Kara Bagot, Hassan Fathy, Brian Swanson, Jennice Vilhauer, Konstantin Balayan, Nestor Ian Bolotaulo, Mark Hyman Rapaport

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Quality of life (QOL) is known to be negatively affected during the course of major depressive disorder. Various studies have documented the benefits of pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy alone on QOL in depression, with few studies examining combined treatment. This review will examine the evidence for the impact of each modality, as well as their combination, on QOL in depression. Methods: Using the key terms depression, depress**, major depress**, quality of life, antidepressant**, and psychotherapy, MEDLINE and PsycINFO searches were conducted to identify treatment-outcome studies that used known QOL measurements over the past twenty-six years (1984 to 2010). Results: Significant improvements in depressive symptomatology and QOL measurements were found with pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, and their combination, with some studies showing greater improvement following combined treatment than with either intervention alone. Conclusions: Substantial evidence suggests that psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and their combination have favorable effects on QOL in depression. While some studies have shown that combined therapy is superior than either of the two forms alone in improving QOL, additional research is needed to elucidate this effect. QOL measurement is an important dimension of treatment-outcome assessment in patients with depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-289
Number of pages13
JournalHarvard Review of Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Combined therapy
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Quality of life


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