Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) intervention is effective at treating depression but not successful at self-care heart failure, according to a new study. The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
It is quite common for those who have heart disease to develop major depression. If depression and heart failure are not well cared for, they can lead to further complications, more hospital visits and an increased risk of death. Self-care for heart failure involves behaviors that help maintain physical function, eating well and taking prescribed medications.
Researchers took 158 outpatients with heart failure and major depression and assigned them cognitive behavior therapy intervention or usual care. The intervention contained standard CBT along with specific CBT for cardiac patients. Patients received one-hour sessions over six months of treatment. Treatment dwindled to bi-weekly then monthly.
From the total, 132 participants completed the six-month therapy. Those in the CBT group had lower scores of depression after the six months compared to the usual care group. CBT did not improve physical functioning or heart failure but did improve anxiety, fatigue, social functioning and quality of life. Additional findings are required to evaluate the effectiveness of CBT in future hospitalizations.
The researchers wrote, “The results suggest that CBT is superior to usual care for depression in patients with HF [heart failure]. Further research is needed on interventions to improve depression, self-care, physical functioning, and quality of life in patients with HF and comorbid major depression.”