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Cognitive behavioral therapy shown to help depression


Cognitive behavioral therapy, provided in addition to usual care, can reduce symptoms of depression and help improve patients’ quality of life, according to a study.

The British study’s researchers said it is the first large-scale trial to test the effectiveness of CBT given in addition to usual care that includes antidepressants. The goal was to determine the best next-step treatment for people whose depression had not responded to medication alone.

Researchers from the universities of Bristol, Exter and Glasgow in the United Kingdom recruited 469 patients, ages 18 to 75, with treatment-resistant depression for the randomized controlled trial.

At six months, 46% of those who received CBT in addition to usual care had improved, reporting at least a 50% reduction in symptoms of depression, compared with 22% of those who continued with usual care alone. This beneficial effect was maintained over 12 months.

The findings demonstrate that CBT provided in addition to usual care including antidepressant medication is an effective treatment that reduces depressive symptoms, and improves the quality of life in patients whose depression has not responded to the most common first-line treatment for depression in primary care, the researchers said.

“In many countries, access to psychological treatments such as CBT is limited to people who can afford to pay, or those with health insurance,” Nicola Wiles, PhD, the study’s lead author and a senior lecturer with the University of Bristol, said in a news release.

“These findings emphasize the importance of increasing the availability of psychological therapy. Our study suggests that by investing in psychological services, it is possible to reduce the significant burden to patients and healthcare systems that is associated with non-response to antidepressant medication.

“Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that while we found CBT was an effective treatment for this patient group, not everyone who received CBT improved. It is therefore essential that we invest in further research in this area to investigate alternative treatment options, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, for the significant number of patients whose depression does not get better following treatment with antidepressants.”

The study appeared Dec. 7 on the website of The Lancet. The study abstract is available at


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