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Are You Blue? What Can You Do?

A Case Study on Treatment Options for Depression


Amy Pettigrew
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati
Linda Walsh
Psychology Department
University of Northern Iowa
Kathleen Boje
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
University at Buffalo


This case study introduces students to treatment alternatives for depression using a jigsaw method in which groups of students are divided up so that each member of the “home group” becomes the “resident expert” in one of five possible treatment options. Designed for a course in abnormal psychology, this case could be adapted for courses in physiological psychology, pharmacy, and neurobiology.


  • Introduce students to the process of looking at the comparative advantages and disadvantages of some of the major kinds of treatment for depression. This involves a brief introduction to three antidepressant medications, a natural remedy, and an example of psychotherapy.
  • Help students see that treatment decisions are complex and probabilistic rather than simple black-and-white choices so they understand why these decisions are best made in consultation with a professional.
  • Introduce students to the concept and potential value of "alternative" treatments or "natural remedies" for the treatment of depression.
  • Make students aware of the resources for treating depression on their campus (counseling center, health center, etc.).
  • Introduce students to resources beyond their textbooks for further research and investigation of available types of treatment for this and other disorders.


Depression; mental health; tricyclic antidepressant; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; SSRI; serotonin; monoamine oxidase inhibitor; natural remedies; alternative medicine; St. John's Wort; cognitive behavioral therapy; CBT; psychotherapy

Topical Areas


Educational Level

Undergraduate upper division, Graduate, Clinical education, General public & informal education



Type / Methods

Dilemma/Decision, Jig-Saw, Student Presentations



Subject Headings

Psychology  |   Pharmacy / Pharmacology  |   Neuroscience  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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