Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Ease Depression Symptoms

Patients with depression in residential substance abuse treatment benefit from CBT

WEDNESDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for patients with depression who are receiving residential substance abuse treatment may improve depression and reduce substance abuse, according to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Katherine E. Watkins, M.D., M.S.H.S., from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., and colleagues compared the effectiveness of residential substance abuse treatment (usual care) with that of usual care plus group CBT (intervention group), delivered by substance abuse treatment counselors, in 299 patients with depression. The investigators assigned 159 patients to usual care and 140 to usual care plus two-hour group sessions of CBT, and alternated treatment between them every four months for two and a half years. A follow-up was done at three and six months after baseline interviews, with follow-up rates of 88.1 and 86.2 percent, respectively, for usual care, and 85.7 and 85.0 percent, respectively, for the intervention group. Change in depression symptoms, mental health functioning, and days of alcohol and problem substance use were the outcomes measured.

The investigators found significantly fewer depressive symptoms and improved mental health functioning in the intervention group at both three and six months follow-up. In addition, the intervention group reported significantly fewer drinking days and fewer days of problem substance use at six-month follow-up.

"Providing group CBT for depression to clients with persistent depressive symptoms receiving residential substance abuse treatment is associated with better improvement in both depression and substance use outcomes," the authors write.

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