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Finally moving beyond the horse race: CBT and psychodynamic therapy equally effective for depression
  1. Patrick Luyten1,2
  1. 1Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  2. 2University College London, London, UK

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What is already known on this topic?

The efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in the treatment of major depression has been relatively well established, with comparable efficacy to pharmacological therapy at treatment termination and potentially superior outcomes in the long run.1 The empirical status of brief psychodynamic treatment (BPT) for depression is less well established, which hampers decision-making for policy-makers, clinicians and patients.2

What does this paper add?

  • This study is by far the largest existing randomised trial to compare the efficacy of CBT and BPT.

  • Findings further enhance the evidence base for BPT in depression, with no significant differences observed on any of the outcome measures at treatment termination and at 1-year follow-up.

  • Remission rates for CBT and BPT were somewhat lower compared to some other studies, which may be explained by the sample's ethnic heterogeneity, low socioeconomic status and high Axis I comorbidity. Yet these features are often typical of depressed patients seen in routine clinical practice, so perhaps they allow for a reasonably accurate estimate of treatment effects.


  • Outcome measurement was limited to severity of depression, and it is not clear whether the findings …

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