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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can reduce symptoms of depression in people who fail to respond to anti-depressants

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can reduce symptoms of depression in people who fail to respond to drug treatment, found a new study in the Lancet.

CBT, a type of psychotherapy, was found to benefit nearly half of the 234 patients who received it combined with normal care from their GP.

Up to two-thirds of people with depression do not respond to anti-depressants.

Patients should have access to a range of treatments, the charity Mind said.

CBT is a form of talking psychotherapy to help people with depression change the way they think to improve how they feel and alter their behavior.

The study followed 469 patients with treatment-resistant depression picked from GP practices in Bristol, Exeter and Glasgow over 12 months.


One group of patients continued with their usual care from their GP, which could include anti-depressant medication, while the second group was also treated with CBT.

After six months, researchers found 46% of those who had received CBT reported at least a 50% reduction in their symptoms.

This compared with 22% experiencing the same reduction in the other group.

CBT is a form of talking psychotherapy to help people with depression change the way they think to improve how they feel and alter their behavior

CBT is a form of talking psychotherapy to help people with depression change the way they think to improve how they feel and alter their behavior

The study concluded CBT was effective in reducing symptoms and improving patients’ quality of life. The improvements had been maintained for a period of 12 months, it added.

The patients who did benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy spent one hour a week with a clinical psychologist learning skills to help change the way they think.

Chris Williams, professor of psychosocial psychiatry at the University of Glasgow, and part of the research team, said: “The research used a CBT intervention alongside treatment with anti-depressants. It confirms how these approaches – the psychological and physical – can complement each other.

“It was also encouraging because we found the approach worked to good effect across a wide range of people of different ages and living in a variety of settings.”

WHAT IS CBT?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is:

  • a way of talking about how you think about yourself, the world and other people
  • how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings

CBT can help you to change how you think (cognitive) and what you do (behavior).

Unlike some other talking treatments, it focuses on the “here and now” instead of the causes of distress or past symptoms.