It’s not just “Take a Pill”: Talk Therapy Works for the Co-treatment of Depression

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In a randomized controlled trial study, the addition of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to drug therapy was associated with a greater than threefold response to treatment after six months as reported by Nicola Wise, MD, from the University of Bristol in England and reported in an online edition of The Lancet. The study addressed a question which has been lingering for some time about how to address the people who do not fully respond to drug therapy alone. Currently, it is estimated that only one-third of the people treated with antidepressants respond fully.

The study identified a positive outcome as a 50% reduction in depressive symptoms as measured on the Beck Depression Inventory. The CBT component offered at least 12 sessions of 50-60 minutes each with a limit of 18 sessions. Wiles and her group found that 46% of the patients in the study responded to therapy at 6 months compared to 22% of the usual drug treatment only group. The group who had CBT fared better in secondary outcomes at six months which included a remission of symptoms, reduction in anxiety and panic symptoms and an overall improvement in mental health.

Drug therapy for depression has been long hailed as the most cost-effective approach. However, the study supports what clinicians have intuitively recognized; that when combined with a sound clinical treatment approach, the long-term effects would be greater and more durable.

To read the primary source at The Lancet:

Wiles, N. et al “Cognitive behavioral therapy as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy for primary care based patients with treatment resistant depression: results of the CoBalT randomized controlled trial” Lancet 2012: DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61552-9

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