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Six-year outcome of cognitive behavior therapy for prevention of recurrent depression.

22 Nov

A study at the University of Bologna suggests that using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy allows a significant proportion of people with recurrent depression to withdraw from medication successfully and to stay well for at least 6 years.

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at The University of Bologna, in multi-center, randomized, controlled clinical trials, looked at the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for replacing medication at reducing recurrence in depression. Cognitive behavior treatment had been found earlier to yield a significantly lower relapse rate than clinical management in recurrent depression at a 2-year follow-up. This study looked at a 6-year follow-up of cognitive behavior treatment versus clinical management.

Forty patients with recurrent major depression who had been successfully treated with antidepressant drugs were randomly assigned to either cognitive behavior treatment of residual symptoms (supplemented by lifestyle modification and well-being therapy) or clinical management. In both groups, antidepressant drugs were tapered and discontinued. A 6-year follow-up was undertaken. During this period, no antidepressant drugs were used unless a relapse ensued.

The study found that cognitive behavior treatment resulted in a significantly lower relapse rate (40%) at a 6-year follow-up than did clinical management (90%). When multiple recurrences were considered, the group that received cognitive behavior treatment had a significantly lower number of relapses in comparison with the clinical management group.

These findings suggest that the sequential use of cognitive behavior treatment after pharmacotherapy may improve long-term outcomes in recurrent depression. A significant proportion of patients with recurrent depression might be able to withdraw from medication successfully and to stay well for at least 6 years with a focused course of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.

Citation: Fava GA, Ruini C, Rafanelli C, Finos L, Conti S, Grandi S. Six-year outcome of cognitive behavior therapy for prevention of recurrent depression. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2004 Oct; 161 (10): pages 1872-6. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award