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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1991 Feb;59(1):88-99.

Cognitive therapy and pharmacotherapy for depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37240.


Cognitive therapy (CT) for depression has generated considerable interest in recent years. Comparisons with tricyclic pharmacotherapy in nonbipolar outpatients have suggested that (a) CT may be roughly comparable in the treatment of the acute episode: (b) combined CT-pharmacotherapy does not appear to be clearly superior to either modality (although indications of potential enhancement do exist to justify additional studies with larger samples), and (c) treatment with CT during the acute episode (either alone or with medications) may reduce the risk of subsequent relapse following termination. Nonetheless, for a variety of reasons (e.g., limitations in study design and execution, inadequate design power, and possible differential retention), these conclusions can be considered only suggestive at this time. More than a decade after the publication of the first controlled study involving CT, the approach remains a promising, but not adequately tested, alternative to pharmacotherapy in the treatment of depression.

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