facebook twitter twitter tiktok   donate



Suicide Crisis Helpline
0800 567 567

Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Helpline
0800 12 13 14
SMS 32312

Cipla Mental Health Helpline
0800 456 789
SMS 31393

NPOwer SA Helpline
0800 515 515
SMS 43010

Healthcare Workers Care Network Helpline
0800 21 21 21
SMS 43001

UFS #Fair Kitchens Chefs Helpline
0800 006 333


Dr Reddy’s Mental Health Helpline
0800 21 22 23

Adcock Ingram Depression & Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90

ADHD Helpline
0800 55 44 33

Pharma Dynamics Police & Trauma Helpline
0800 20 50 26


011 234 4837


8AM – 5PM

Cipla Mental Health
076 882 2775

Maybelline BraveTogether
087 163 2030

Ke Moja Substance Abuse
087 163 2025


student shaming

EMERGENCY Contact Numbers for Students in South Africa - Click here


counsellor button

Request a Callback from a Counsellor
Click here



SADAG has over 160 free Support Groups. To find out more about joining or starting a Support Group click here.

Mental Health Calendar 2023

2023 Mental Health Calendar

To view our Mental Health Calendar
click here


questionnaire infographic

Do You want to check your Mental Health?

Click here for questionnaires

New study finds talking, drugs don't act on brain in same way Patients who engage in cognitive or "talk" therapy to recover from depression show brain changes that differ from what occurs with drug therapy, new research finds. The study shows for the first time with imaging evidence that the depressed brain responds differently to different treatments -- and the results may help doctors understand why one treatment works for one patient but not another, says study author Dr. Helen Mayberg. Her report appears in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. Mayberg, an associate scientist at the University of Toronto's Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, and her team looked at 14 adults with clinical depression who received 15 to 20 sessions of outpatient talk therapy without any drug treatments. They gave the patients brain scans before and after therapy using positron emission tomography (PET), which pinpoints the areas where the most changes in brain metabolism occur. They compared the results to typical changes that have been found with drug therapy They found both therapies affected many of the same regions in the brain, but in different ways. "One [treatment] isn't better than the other," says Mayberg, who is also a professor of psychiatry and neurology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "Different treatments work on the brain in different ways." In drug therapy, the brain chemistry is altered in the bottom regions of the brain, such as the limbic region, areas that drive basic emotional behaviors, according to Mayberg. It's considered a "bottom-up" approach. Talk therapy is termed a "top-down" approach because it focuses on changes in the cortical -- or top -- areas of the brain, regions associated with thinking functions, to change abnormal mood states. With drug therapy, experts know that blood flow decreases in the bottom regions and increases in the top areas. But with talk therapy, blood flow increased in the bottom regions and decreased in the top regions. Mayberg says the reverse pattern can be explained this way: As talk therapy patients learn to shut off the thinking patterns that lead them to dwell on negativity, activity in areas of the cortical or top regions decrease as well. Dr. Aaron Beck, one of the originators of cognitive therapy and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, praises the new study. "It demonstrates that cognitive therapy does have a serious impact insofar as there are brain changes," he says. "Clinically, we have documented the changes in depression [with talk therapy]," he says. Now, he adds, the study provides the subjective evidence that there are neurophysiological changes. The findings, he adds, are consistent with the top-down theory of how cognitive therapy works. "You do get a kind of confluence between the two approaches in terms of the brain changes," he adds. The findings may help doctors better decide how to treat depression, says Mayberg, using a combination of approaches. "The areas that cognitive therapy work in are areas that drugs don't touch," she says.  

Our Partners