Take cognitive therapy to come out of severe depression

Washington: You can come out of depression, even if it is severe, with the help of cognitive therapy, says a new study.

Cognitive Therapy is one of the main techniques being used to manage anxiety and depression, among others. It helps users understand the negative thought processes that can cause problems and how they can be restructured.

The results suggest that therapists should concentrate, at least during the first few sessions, on using cognitive techniques to help those with more severe depression to break out of negative thought patterns and to see events in their lives more realistically.

"There has been a lot of attention recently on behavioural approaches to treating severe depression, and that may lead some people to suspect that cognitive techniques are not important for more severely depressed patients," said Daniel Strunk, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University (OSU).

"But our results suggest that it was the cognitive strategies that actually helped patients improve the most during the first critical weeks of cognitive-behavioural therapy."

Strunk conducted the study with Melissa Brotman of the National Institute of Mental Health and Robert DeRubeis of the University of Pennsylvania.

The study involved 60 patients who were diagnosed with major depression and who were being treated at two university clinics, said an OSU release.

All the patients were being treated by one of six cognitive therapists and agreed to have their therapy sessions videotaped for study.

Their results appear online in Behaviour Research and Therapy.