Study shows significant positive outcomes following behavioral therapy for depression

Jun 11, 2010

Depression is one of the most common forms of psychiatric disorder. It can occur at any time of life and it may affect children and adolescents as well as the elderly. However, depression can usually be suitably managed with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy.

German researchers based at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have been able to demonstrate both the efficacy and the extent of the beneficial effect of routine psychotherapeutic treatment for . Although controlled clinical studies have already shown that behavioral therapy is extremely effective in depressive disorders, there were still doubts among professionals that the results of this research could be directly applied to the kinds of routine therapy that could be provided in the environment of the normal psychotherapy practice. "We have been able to prove that behavioral therapy is also of considerable value under these conditions," states psychologist Amrei Schindler of the Outpatient Policlinic for Psychotherapy of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "Although our results were not quite as positive as those reported from randomized controlled trials."

The study population consisted of 229 patients who had been referred to the Mainz University Outpatient Clinic with depression in the period 2001-2008. Of these, 174 did not prematurely terminate therapy - in other words, they completed the full course of treatment. "On average, the patients attended 35 therapy sessions in our clinic, so that each course of treatment lasted some 18 months," Schindler explains. Results were recorded at three predefined points in time. Evaluation of the data collected for the total sample of 229 patients showed that there was significant alleviation of depressive symptoms and psychological manifestations during the course of treatment. On the basis of the results obtained using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) - a standard questionnaire used worldwide for self-assessment of depressive symptoms - 61 percent of all participating patients achieved a better than 50 percent improvement of their symptoms. "On completion of therapy, patients reported significantly fewer symptoms than on commencement," Schindler summarizes the results of a before/after comparison. Whether patients were also concomitantly taking psychotropic drugs or not evidently had no effect on the outcome under these circumstances.

Patients normally need to wait for several months before they are able to commence therapy; in the case of the study population, this waiting period was nearly five months. On comparison of depression-related parameters at the time of registration for the course of therapy and at the time of commencement of therapy, it was found that there had been no perceptible change to during this waiting period. "We conclude that the improvements are de facto attributable to behavioral therapy and are not the result, or at least not alone the result, of the use of psychotropic drugs or spontaneous remission." Schindler also points out that there were also distinct improvements in the patients who prematurely discontinued treatment, although these were not as marked as in those cases in which the full course of therapy was completed.

However, the results of the study also indicate that when therapy is provided under empirical conditions, as at the University Clinic, it is not quite as effective as under the conditions of randomized controlled trials that have been designed for research purposes. A further study is to be conducted in order to determine whether and to what extent this effect correlates with differences between patient populations.

Explore further: Mental scars for Ukrainians trapped under shelling

Provided by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

4.3 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can Family Therapy Help The Depressed Patient?

Apr 07, 2009

A study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics suggests that single-family and multi-family therapy may benefit hospitalized patients with major depression, and may help the partners of the patients ...

Bright light therapy eases bipolar depression for some

Jan 03, 2008

Bright light therapy can ease bipolar depression in some patients, according to a study published in the journal Bipolar Disorders. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Western Psychiatric Instit ...

Organized phone therapy for depression found cost-effective

Oct 05, 2009

When people get brief, structured, phone-based cognitive behavioral psychotherapy soon after starting on antidepressant medication, significant benefits may persist two years after their first session, with only modest rises ...

Recommended for you

Some people may be pre-wired to be bilingual

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Some people's brains seem pre-wired to acquire a second language, new research suggests. But anyone who tries to move beyond their mother tongue will likely gain a brain boost, the small study ...

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

13 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

15 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

17 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.