CBT cuts anxiety among depressed patients: study

People suffering from depression experienced fewer symptoms of anxiety after complementing their medication with sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), new research has found.

In the first large-scale study of its kind, scientists have shown that CBT can help those who do not respond positively to antidepressants. CBT helps patients change the way that they think, in order both to improve how they feel and also to change what they do. The new study is the latest evidence that CBT can be effective in treating anxiety.

Dr Nicola Wiles, who led the study at the University of Bristol, said the findings should encourage health services to invest more in evidence-based psychological therapies to “reduce the great burden to patients, health-care systems, and society” that can result when patients do not respond to medication.

A total of 469 UK adults, all of whom had previously failed to respond positively to antidepressants after a minimum six weeks, participated in the 12-month trial.

Of those, 235 were randomly selected to continue with their usual medication and care, while 234 were asked to undergo CBT in addition to their usual care.

After six months, 46 per cent of those who had undergone CBT reported that they had suffered less anxiety and said their depressive symptoms had at least halved. This compared with just 22 per cent of those who had continued with their normal care package.

Similar benefits were again reported after a further six months.

Writing in The Lancet, the medical journal which published the study, Dr Wiles said: “A substantial proportion of people do not respond to antidepressants and our results have provided robust evidence that CBT given as an adjunct to usual care that includes antidepressant medication is an effective treatment in reducing depressive symptoms and improving quality of life in this population.

“The size of the treatment response was substantial and of clinical importance and was maintained at the 12-month follow-up after the CBT treatment had ended.”

About Jayne Howarth

Jayne Howarth is a freelance journalist with over 20 years' experience in the industry. She worked for 15 years at The Birmingham Post and has also written for a wide variety of websites focusing on health.

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