The Journal of Affective Disorders, online edition, publishedCombining pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy or monotherapy for major depression? A meta-analysis on the long-term effectson 1-19-16.  This study is a meta-analysis of 23 trials with a total of over 2,000 participants.  The focus was on the effect of “combined treatment” (antidepressant medication and therapy) compared to either psychotherapy or medication alone during the “acute phase” of treatment.

The results include:

  • “combined psychotherapy with antidepressants outperformed antidepressants alone at six months or longer post randomization in patients with major depressive disorder”, and
  • “combined therapy resulted in equal response to treatment compared to psychotherapy alone at six months or longer post randomization” – in other words, therapy lone was as effective as combined therapy, and more effective then medication alone.

The authors conclude:

Combined therapy results in a superior enduring effect compared to antidepressants alone in patients with major depression. Psychotherapy is an adequate alternative for combined treatment in the acute phase as it is as effective as combined treatment in the long-term.

This study comes to our attention courtesy of prolific posting service provided by Ken Pope, Ph.D.  It is part of an emerging body of research that supports the benefits of psychotherapy for patients/clients with MDD. This information could be helpful for patients/clients seeking treatment for MDD, and also may be provided to PCPs when marketing your therapy skills.

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