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Cognitive Behavior Therapy Combats Post-Surgery Blues

Technique effectively treats patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who develop depression after undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery can be successfully treated with cognitive behavior therapy, according to an article published in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Kenneth E. Freedland, Ph.D., of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues conducted a study of 123 patients who were diagnosed with minor or major depression within a year of undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and who were randomized to receive 12 weeks of either cognitive behavior therapy, supportive stress management or usual care, and who were then followed-up after three, six and nine months.

While 71 percent of the patients in the cognitive behavior therapy group were in remission from their depression at the three-month mark, this was the case for 57 percent of the supportive stress management group, versus 33 percent for the usual care group, the investigators found. Although the remission rates began to converge at six months, by the nine-month mark, they were 73 percent, 57 percent and 35 percent, respectively, the report indicates.

"The supportive stress-management outcomes were encouraging, but not as favorable as those in the cognitive behavior therapy arm," the authors write. "Neither intervention affected objective neuropsychological performance, but perceived cognitive functioning improved as depression improved."

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