London: Over 50 per cent patients in the UK, who have been treated for depression and anxiety, relapse within a year of completing their psychological treatment, according to a new study.
The study, published by leading scientific journal 'Behaviour Research and Therapy', was conducted by a team of National Health Service (NHS) clinicians and scientists from the Universities of Sheffield, York, Huddersfield and Trier.
A total of 439 patients, who were considered to have recovered from their symptoms following therapy by the NHS, took part in the study.
Over half of these were found to have suffered a relapse, with up to 79 per cent of events occurring within the first six months after treatment.
According to a report released in February, poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of 105 billion pounds a year in England.
In total, 9.2 billion pounds are spent every year by the NHS on mental health support and services.
Depression and anxiety are very common and often disabling mental health problems, experienced by one in six adults in the UK.
Available treatments in the NHS include medication and psychological therapy.
The most widely available form of psychological care for these conditions is known as Low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (LiCBT), which is a brief and simplified adaptation of a treatment called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
LiCBT involves weekly contact with a mental health professional who guides patients on how to look after their mental health and typically lasts under two months.
LiCBT has been found to lead to short-term improvement of depression and anxiety in previous studies, although there is as still limited evidence about its long-term effectiveness after treatment.
Participants in the study were in contact with researchers on monthly basis for 12 months after treatment.During the period, their wellbeing was monitored and the percentage of cases that relapsed was quantified.
Patients with residual depression symptoms at the end of treatment were twice as likely to relapse, the study said.
Jaime Delgadillo, a researcher with the University of Sheffield, said: "These findings underline the importance of monitoring patients' wellbeing for at least six months after treatment and offering adequate support to ensure they stay well".
"We argue that relapse prevention is a crucial but often neglected aspect of psychological care in the NHS. Incomplete or insufficient treatment also costs the NHS, as patients who relapse often need further care or support," he added.