First, a review of data on SSRIs finds that benefits outweigh the risks:
“Antidepressants are effective in treating disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression,” said David Brent, M.D., one of the study’s investigators, in an interview with Psychiatric News. While he said that they found a small risk associated with developing suicidal thoughts or behaviors in children and adolescents, he noted, “it would be much riskier not to treat them with these medications.”
Placebo works pretty well for depression too.
Another study finds CBT is as effective in treating depression, but was less accepted by patients as a treatment option:
Less than one-third of subjects in a federally funded study of depression treatment consented to try cognitive therapy after discontinuing the antidepressant citalopram either because the medication was not effective or because side effects were intolerable. However, the outcomes among those who did consent to cognitive therapy and who were ultimately randomized into it proved to be comparable to those of all the pharmaceutical options.