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Psychological therapies are effective for adults with treatment-resistant depression

Date: 15 May 2018

An NIHR-funded review has found that adults with treatment-resistant depression who are given psychotherapy in addition to usual care – taking antidepressants – had fewer depressive symptoms after six months than those continuing with usual care. The researchers also found that patients who had psychotherapy – also known as talking therapy – in addition to usual care, were twice as likely to be depression free.

Antidepressants continue to be the first line treatment for patients with moderate or severe depression. However, many people prescribed antidepressants for depression will continue to have significant symptoms, known as treatment-resistant depression. Little is known about what’s the best ‘next-step’ treatment for this group of patients.

This new Cochrane review of existing evidence aimed to find out whether talking therapies work for people with treatment-resistant depression.

Researchers at the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (CLAHRC West) analysed data from six randomised trials. The trials included 698 people in total and studied three types of psychotherapy. They all looked at whether adding psychotherapy to existing antidepressant treatment led to improvements in depressive symptoms, and if psychotherapy was acceptable to patients.

In addition, to the positive outcomes seen at six months, beneficial effects of psychotherapy were also found in a smaller number of studies that looked at outcomes after 12 months and 46 months. Importantly, the researchers also found that providing psychotherapy in addition to usual care was as acceptable to patients as usual care alone.

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  • Summary:
    An NIHR-funded review has found that adults with treatment-resistant depression who are given psychotherapy in addition to usual care – taking antidepressants – had fewer depressive symptoms after six months.
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  • Year of publication:
    2018
  • Specialty:
    Mental Health
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    • Research and Impact


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