Should Cognitive Behavoural Therapy be the first line of treatment for Depression

Posted on November 17, 2014

Source: Brains, Ref. 6; Chart, S. D. Hollon et al. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 62, 417–411 (2005).

Cognitive therapy, commonly known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), aims to help people to identify and change negative, self-destructive thought patterns. And although it does not work for everyone with depression, data have been accumulating in its favour. "CBT is one of the clear success stories in psychotherapy," says Stefan Hofmann, a psychologist at Boston University in Massachusetts.

Antidepressant drugs are usually the first-line treatment for depression. They are seen as a quick, inexpensive fix - but clinical trials reveal that only 22-40% of patients emerge from depression with drugs alone. Although there are various approaches to psychotherapy, CBT is the most widely studied; a meta-analysis1 published this year revealed that, depending on how scientists measure outcomes, between 42% and 66% of patients no longer meet the criteria for depression after therapy.

But no one knows exactly how CBT helps. Depression is a complex disorder that manifests in many different ways, and CBT is multifaceted, involving a series of talking sessions whose precise content differs from one therapist and patient to another. Working out exactly how it affects the brain requires studies that are difficult to conduct and to fund. Still, researchers are beginning to piece together answers using a combination of clinical psychology and neuroimaging experiments. Learning more about how CBT works - and why it does not work for everyone - could ultimately help doctors to deliver better care.

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Category(s):Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Depression

Source material from Nature