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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Elders With Depression

Researchers find talking treatments well received and more effective than sympathetic ear

THURSDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients with depression respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy, and such counseling is more helpful than talking to a warm and empathic listener, according to a study in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Marc Antony Serfaty, of University College London, and colleagues conducted a study of 204 people aged 65 and above, of whom 79.4 percent were female, who had been diagnosed with depression, and randomized them to receive regular treatment alone, or regular treatment with the addition of cognitive behavioral therapy or talking with a therapist.

The participants' mental state was assessed at baseline, after four months of therapy and 10 months after the start of treatment, and the researchers found that after a mean of just greater than seven sessions of therapy, those in the cognitive behavioral therapy group had better depression scores than those in the talking therapy group.

"Although depressive symptoms may be seen as a normal consequence of aging, our results challenge the myth that older people are just lonely and in need of company and a listening ear," the authors write. "Consistent with previous studies, older people can be recruited and engaged in talking therapies, welcome psychological interventions, and benefit from a specific treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy."

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