CBT May Benefit Patients with Depression Years After Treatment Stops — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 8, 2016

CBT May Benefit Patients with Depression Years After Treatment Stops

By Kelly Young

Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH, and William E. Chavey, MD, MS

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is associated with some long-term improvements in depression, according to a Lancet Psychiatry study.

Roughly 470 patients with continued depression despite antidepressant treatment were randomized to continue usual care with their general practitioner or to receive usual care plus 12 to 18 sessions of CBT. Some 250 were followed for a median of 3.8 years, roughly 3.3 years after the end of therapy.

Depression scores were about 5 points better (out of 63 total) in the CBT group over the long term. The proportion of those whose depression symptoms were reduced by 50% relative to baseline was also higher in the CBT group (43% vs. 27%).

Noting that CBT recipients were — on average — still moderately depressed at follow-up, commentators conclude that "clinicians and researchers should focus on strategies to increase the efficacy of the existing treatments and on developing more effective treatments for major depressive disorder."

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