In a new study, researchers found a new therapy is better at treating depression than cognitive-behavioral therapy—or CBT—seen as the gold standard by psychologists.
The therapy is called metacognitive therapy (MCT). The researchers found CBT led to 52% recovery at the end of treatment while MCT led to 74% of patients recovered.
At a six-month follow-up, 56% of patients receiving CBT were recovered; the figure was 74% in those who received MCT.
The findings could have major implications for the treatment of depression, which have remained unchanged for 40 years: only about 50% of people respond and the third recover at follow-up.
The research was conducted by a team at The University of Manchester.
CBT has been the therapy of choice for many years in treating patients with major depression- with varying degrees of success.
The focus of the two treatments is different: MCT aims to change basic mental regulation processes that have become biased, whilst CBT aims to modify thought content and is based much more on clinical observation.
The patients in the study were allocated to receive up to 24 sessions of CBT or 24 sessions of MCT; 174 patients were randomized to either CBT or MCT with 89 assigned to CBT and 85 assigned to MCT.
Treatment was delivered face to face with trained clinical psychologists. The average number of sessions delivered was 6.7 for CBT and 5.5 for MCT.
MCT training is offered by the metacognitive therapy institute UK to health specialists, and consist of eight two-day workshops combined with the supervision of clinical cases.
It takes a similar amount of time to train someone in CBT.
The team says MCT may cost less than CBT but no formal analyses have been run on this to date. However, MCT appears to give results more quickly so fewer sessions may be required.
They do think MCT may be easier to use because it has a core set of principles that can be applied to many types of disorders and does not depend on the reality-testing of different negative thoughts.
Instead, it helps patients to reduce the process of repetitive negative thinking and worrying.
One author of the study is Professor Adrian wells at Manchester.
The study is published in Frontiers in Psychology.
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