The cost of depression may be lowered with a new talk therapy. This simpler and less expensive type of talk therapy was found to be just as effective as the gold-standard version – cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – for treating depression.
This new kind, dubbed behavioral activation therapy, does not require as much training for the mental health workers and the treatment is cheaper than CBT.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is conducted by a highly trained and very well paid specialist. Usually, CBT is only prescribed to those who can afford it or who have insurance. Waiting lists to finally see a therapist can be quite long, oftentimes resulting in treatment delays. With a more affordable and available option that is behavioral activation therapy, more patients could receive the necessary help they need within a shorter period of time.
Lead author David Richards said, “Our findings challenge the dominance of CBT as the leading evidence-based psychological therapy for depression.”
For the study, the researchers recruited 440 adults with depression who were assigned to either behavioral activation therapy or CBT. After one year, two-thirds of the patients remained in either group and at least 50 percent of them experienced fewer depression symptoms. Both groups had similar results, but the costs for behavioral activation therapy were 20 percent lower than for CBT.
Richards explained, “Behavioral activation is an ‘outside in’ treatment that focuses on helping people with depression to change the way they act. The treatment helps people make the link between their behavior and their mood. Therapists help people to seek out and experience more positive situations in their lives. The treatment also helps people deal with difficult situations and helps them find alternatives to unhelpful habitual behaviors.”
“In contrast, CBT is an ‘inside out’ treatment where therapists focus on the way a person thinks. Therapists help people to identify and challenge their thoughts and beliefs about themselves, the world, and their future. CBT helps people to identify and modify negative thoughts and the beliefs that give rise to them,” he continued.
Although behavioral activation therapy shows promise, further research is required to see if this kind of therapy is effective in one-third of patients who don’t respond to CBT.