According to recent research from the Netherlands, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is most effective when it is used for recurrent depression, especially on those who have suffered four or more bouts of depression. The research has been published in this month’s publication of the British Journal of Psychiatry and suggests that GPs could look at patients’ past history of depression to identify the ones who would benefit most from CBT treatment.

The Netherlands study took 208 patients suffering from depression whose ages ranged from 18 to 70 and were receiving treatment from their GPs. Some continued with their usual GP treatment, some were given psycho-education and others were given CBT combined with psycho-education. All patients were continually monitored over a two year period.  For those with three or less periods of depression, all three methods appeared to work equally as well as each other. However, for those with four or more previous bouts of depression, CBT plus psycho-education proved the most effective.

The researcher is quoted as saying:

“We found that in patients with three or fewer prior episodes the three treatments perform equally well, whereas in patients with four or more episodes, CBT plus psycho-education performs clinically better than usual care. This effect is assumed to be attributable to the CBT component of CBT plus psycho-education, since psycho-education did not differ from usual care (although a favourable interaction between psycho-education and CBT cannot be ruled out completely).”