Depression and cognitive behavioural therapy

By Siski Green , Friday 14 December 2012

Research shows cognitive behavioural therapy is effective for depressed patients.
Therapist with patientThe research found that CBT was effective in helping to relieve symptoms of depression

For some patients, antidepressants give near-immediate relief from the symptoms of depression, which may include fatigue, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness and loss of interest in activities or hobbies, for example. But for many, the same medications just don’t work. They may alleviate the symptoms to some extent but not fully, they may not work at all, or the side effects may be too great to make the medication helpful.

New research shows that cognitive behavioural therapy, when used along with usual care, can be as effective in patients who don’t respond to medication.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) involves a therapist talking through a patient’s current thoughts and feelings (rather than focusing on the past, as some other forms of therapy do) and then suggesting ways in which a person can change those habitual thought patterns and beliefs. Different coping strategies are suggested and a person’s overall approach to life, their way of viewing themselves and others, can be altered so that mental wellbeing is improved. Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Glasgow recruited 469 patients in order to assess how effective CBT was in helping to relieve symptoms of depression in those for whom medications did not work. All the patients were classified as having treatment-resistent depression.

They were split into two groups – one group continued to get the usual care from their GP, including continuing to take medication; the other group also got the usual care, including medication, but they also had cognitive behavioural therapy.

The participants were checked at six months and then a year afterwards to see how effective the therapy had been. At the six month point nearly half of the CBT group had improved, compared to just 22% of the other non-CBT group. Improvement was classed as when a participant showed at least a 50% reduction in symptoms of depression. This benefit was maintained over the year.

These are important findings, say the researchers, as they suggest that although antidepressants are most often the first treatment offered to patients, CBT should be offered more routinely to patients worldwide.

In the UK CBT is available on the NHS to depressed patients who haven’t shown improvements with other forms of treatment.

It is possible to use CBT methods in other ways – self-help books with exercises can be useful, and you can also utilise a computer-based CBT programme. Some are free and there are many others that require payment. Ask your GP to recommend one that would work best for you.

Subscribe to our fortnightly health newsletter for more fascinating health news and features.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Related

  • Herbs vs drugs

    Depression: alternatives to drug treatment

    Talking therapies, diet, exercise and health supplements - Lesley Dobson examines the alternatives to drug treatment for depression

    Read on

  • Woman talking on telephone

    Phone therapy

    Therapy works just as well over the phone, say researchers

    Read on

  • Honey the cat

    Coping with the loss of an animal companion

    The loss of a pet can be devastating, but research reveals that while one in four pet-bereaved people have been too upset to go to work, most do not feel that they can tell their boss why they need time off

    Read on

  • Care home patient speaking to staff member

    How a speech and language therapist could help

    An estimated one in five of us experiences difficulties in communication at some point in our lives. If you – or someone you care for - are one of them, a speech and language therapist can help you find your voice

    Read on

  • Miss you

    Fight loneliness and improve your health

    By taking some simple steps towards tackling feelings of isolation we can improve our physical as well as our mental health.

    Read on

  • Health Club

    Health Club

    Free membership and free online assessment to see how healthy you could be.

    MORE DETAILS

  • HCP thumbnail

    Health Cash Plan

    You can claim up to 75% of your common everyday healthcare expenses including dental and optical treatments.

    MORE DETAILS

  • Saga Health Insurance

    Health insurance

    A comprehensive range of competitively priced HealthPlans. 3 months free when you pay by monthly Direct Debit.

    MORE DETAILS


  • Margaret Edwards

    Posted: Wednesday 12 February 2014

    I am an accredited CBT Therapist/ Counsellor and would like to enquire if I could join your list of providers for therapy

    Kind Regards
    Margaret

COMMENTS

Type your comment here


 characters remaining.

Saga Magazine

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £1 for 3 issues.

Saga Magazine e-newsletter

Sign up to our free newsletter today

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for all the latest recipes, gardening tips, prize draws, interviews and more delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Saga Magazine app

You can now read your Saga Magazine on a huge range of mobile devices - from the Kindle Fire to an iPhone or iPad.

Saga Magazine's 2014 calendar

Snap up your calendar for just £7.99

From deep midwinter to the heady days of summer, we've chosen 12 winners from our readers' stunning images. To see for yourself why they were chosen, buy your 2014 Saga Magazine calendar today.