(HealthDay News) — Cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants could both be equally effective as stand-alone treatments for major depressive disorder, according to a review published online December 8 in The BMJ.
Halle Amick, MSPH, a research associate with the Research Triangle Institute-University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues looked at research done between 1990 and 2015. All included patients 18 years or older. The studies looked at the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy alone versus drug treatment, or a combination of the two versus medication alone.
Many of the studies turned out to have methodology problems, and the review authors said many findings were low strength in terms of reliability. They also noted that drugs were reviewed as a class of medications, not by individual drug. Nevertheless, Amick told HealthDay that there was “no statistical or clinical difference between the two treatments.”
“This is one of the few studies to actually compare them head to head. And the finding is important because many doctors don’t have an understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy, and often don’t feel fully comfortable prescribing it,” Amick said. The take-away message from this study may be that if a doctor doesn’t talk about psychotherapy as a treatment option, patients really should be encouraged to ask about it, she said.