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J Affect Disord. 2011 Mar;129(1-3):109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.08.003. Epub 2010 Sep 6.

Cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy versus interpersonal psychotherapy for early-onset chronic depression: a randomized pilot study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre Freiburg, Germany.



The only psychotherapy specifically designed and evaluated for the treatment of chronic depression, the Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP), has never been directly compared to another depression-specific psychological method.


Thirty patients with early-onset chronic depression were randomized to 22 sessions of CBASP or Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) provided in 16 weeks. Primary outcome was the score on the 24-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) assessed posttreatment by an independent blinded evaluator. Secondary endpoints were, among others, remission (HRSD≤8) rates and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The study included a prospective naturalistic 12-month follow-up.


Intent-to-treat analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) revealed that there was no significant difference in posttreatment HRSD scores between the CBASP and the IPT condition, but in self-rated BDI scores. We found significantly higher remission rates in the CBASP (57%) as compared to the IPT (20%) group. One year posttreatment, no significant differences were found in the self-reported symptom level (BDI) using ANCOVA.


The study used only a small sample size and no placebo control. The generalizability of the results may be limited to patients with a preference for psychological treatment.


While the primary outcome was not significant, secondary measures showed relevant benefits of CBASP over IPT. We found preliminary evidence that in early-onset chronic depression, an approach specifically designed for this patient population was superior to a method originally developed for the treatment of acute depressive episodes. Long-term results suggest that chronically depressed patients may need extended treatment courses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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