It just may be that no drug is more effective than a good, meaningful chat. A British study has demonstrated the healing power of friendship.
A group of chronically depressed women living in London were randomly assigned to receive a volunteer "befriender" or were placed on a waiting list for one. The befrienders were instructed to be confidants to the depressed women, meeting them regularly for chats over coffee or outings.
Tirril Harris, of Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' schools of medicine in London reports that among the women who saw their volunteer friends regularly throughout the year, 72 percent experienced a remission in depression compared with just 45 percent in the control group. That's about the same success rate as antidepressants or cognitive therapy, says Harris.