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CBT Helps Relieve Depression When Medication Fails

CBT Helps Relieve Depression When Medication FailsPeople who don’t respond to antidepressants report improvement with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), according to researchers at the University of Bristol.

CBT, a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy, is a way of helping people with depression change the way they think, which helps improve how they feel and change what they do, researchers said.

A research team led by Nicola Wiles, Ph.D., from the University of Bristol recruited 469 adults who had not responded to at least six weeks of treatment with an antidepressant.

Half of the participants were randomly chosen to continue with the usual care provided by their general practitioner, which included continuing on antidepressant medication, while the other half received CBT in addition to usual care.

After six months, 46 percent of the participants who received CBT in addition to usual care had improved, reporting at least a 50 percent reduction in depressive symptoms, compared to 22 percent who continued with treatment as usual.

Individuals in the intervention group were also more likely to experience remission and have fewer symptoms of anxiety, according to the researchers, who note that similar beneficial effects were reported at 12 months.

“Until now, there was little evidence to help clinicians choose the best next step treatment for those patients whose symptoms do not respond to standard drug treatments,” said Wiles.

In the UK, approximately 3 percent of adults report depression, while in the United States that number jumps to about 7 percent, according to the researchers, who noted that depression is predicted to become the leading cause of disability in high income countries by 2030.

“In many countries access to CBT is limited to those who can afford it,” Wiles said.

“Even in the UK where there has been substantial investment in psychological services, many people who have not responded to antidepressants still do not receive more intensive psychological therapies, such as CBT that take 12 to 18 sessions. In the U.S., only about a quarter of people with depression have received any form of psychological therapy in the last 12 months.”

Source: Lancet


Woman talking with a therapist photo by shutterstock.

CBT Helps Relieve Depression When Medication Fails

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). CBT Helps Relieve Depression When Medication Fails. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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