One of the largest studies of its type has revealed a simple and inexpensive therapy is just as effective as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in treating depression.
It’s known as Behavioural Activation (BA) and focuses on getting people to make the link between their behaviour and their mood. That way, they can seek out more positive situations.
BA can be delivered by more junior staff with less training making it around 20 per cent cheaper than CBT.
Researchers at the University of Exeter say BA could be the key to delivering treatment to more people.
“Effectively treating depression at low cost is a global priority,” says report author Professor David Richards. “Our finding is the most robust evidence yet that Behavioural Activation is just as effective as CBT, meaning an effective workforce could be trained much more easily and cheaply without any compromise on the high level of quality.”
The Exeter team worked with clinical services across the United Kington to compare psychological treatments of depression.
Professor Richards says the results were conclusive.
“Our findings challenge the dominance of CBT as the leading evidence-based psychological therapy for depression,” he says. “Behavioural Activation should be a front-line treatment for depression in the UK and has enormous potential to improve reach and access to psychological therapy worldwide.”
Clinical depression is the second largest cause of disability globally, affecting around 350 million people. The impact on economic output across the world is projected to be US$5.36 trillion between 2011 and 2030.
“Our findings indicate that health services worldwide, both rich and poor, could reduce the need for costly professional training and infrastructure, reduce waiting times, and increase the availability of psychological therapies. However, more work still needs to be done to find ways to effectively treat up to a third of people with depression who do not respond to CBT or behavioural activation,” says Professor Richards.