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Cognitive Therapy plus Medication is More Effective than Medication Alone in the Treatment of Depression

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of combining cognitive therapy (CT) with ADM vs ADM alone on remission and recovery in major depressive disorder (MDD).

METHOD: A total of 452 adult outpatients with chronic or recurrent MDD participated in a trial conducted in research clinics at 3 university medical centers in the United States. The patients were randomly assigned to ADM treatment alone or CT combined with ADM treatment. Treatment was continued for up to 42 months until recovery was achieved.

RESULTS: Combined treatment enhanced the rate of recovery vs treatment with ADM alone (72.6% vs 62.5%; t451?=?2.45; P?=?.01; hazard ratio [HR], 1.33; 95% CI, 1.06-1.68; number needed to treat [NNT], 10; 95% CI, 5-72). This effect was conditioned on interactions with severity (t451?=?1.97; P?=?.05; NNT,?5) and chronicity (?2?=?7.46; P?=?.02; NNT,?6) such that the advantage for combined treatment was limited to patients with severe, nonchronic MDD (81.3% vs 51.7%; n?=?146; t145 = 3.96; P?=?.001; HR, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.54-3.57; NNT, 3; 95% CI, 2-5). Fewer patients dropped out of combined treatment vs ADM treatment alone (18.9% vs 26.8%; t451?=?-2.04; P?=?.04; HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.45-0.98). Remission rates did not differ significantly either as a main effect of treatment or as an interaction with severity or chronicity. Patients with comorbid Axis II disorders took longer to recover than did patients without comorbid Axis II disorders regardless of the condition (P?=?.01). Patients who received combined treatment reported fewer serious adverse events than did patients who received ADMs alone (49 vs 71; P?=?.02), largely because they experienced less time in an MDD episode.

CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive therapy combined with ADM treatment enhances the rates of recovery from MDD relative to ADMs alone, with the effect limited to patients with severe, nonchronic depression.

Hollon S.D., DeRubeis R.J., Fawcett J., et al. Effect of Cognitive Therapy With Antidepressant Medications vs Antidepressants Alone on the Rate of Recovery in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 20, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1054.