Researchers have called for GPs to offer cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for all patients that have not responded to antidepressants in a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment, found that CBT reduces anxiety, improves mental health and induces remission in depressed patients when used alongside usual forms of therapy.
The researchers concluded that GPs ‘should discuss referral for CBT with all those for whom antidepressants are not effective’.
It comes after recent calls for GPs to offer a choice of either therapy or medication as an option for first-line treatment after both were found to be equally as effective.
Among the benefits for mental health, the researchers also believe that CBT is a cost-effective method to treat depression and provides ‘benefit, in terms of health-related quality of life’ that is ‘sustained over time and therefore achieved at no additional cost’.
The study considered the long term effects of behavioural therapy by evaluating patients three years after they had initially received CBT alongside usual methods of first-line treatment.
Overall, patients that had received CBT as an adjunct were found to be less depressed than their counterparts and less likely to use antidepressants for a sustained period of time.