Seasonal affective disorder
Among the various psychotherapies, cognitive-behavioral therapy appears to be the most effective approach. If psychotherapy is used alone without medications, benefits should be evident within 8 weeks and symptoms should be fully resolved by 12 weeks. If these conditions are not met, then the patient should strongly consider antidepressant drugs.
In a major analysis of four randomized comparative studies, cognitive behavior therapy worked as well as antidepressants in treating severe depression for many patients. Much of the success of psychologic therapy depends on the skill of the therapist. Many studies suggest that combining cognitive therapy with antidepressants offer the greatest benefits for many patients, particularly for dysthymia (chronic depression).
Medical evidence also has found that the benefits of cognitive therapy persist after treatment has ended. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to help prevent future suicide attempts in patients with a history of suicidal behavior.
Best Candidates. Cognitive therapy may be particularly helpful for the following patients:
Approach. This approach focuses on identification of distorted perceptions that patients may have of the world and themselves, on changing these perceptions, and on discovering new patterns of actions and behavior. These perceptions, known as schemas, are negative assumptions developed in childhood that can precipitate and prolong depression. Cognitive therapy works on the principle that these schemas can be recognized and altered, thereby changing the response and eliminating the depression.
Over time, such exercises help build confidence and eventually alter behavior. Patients may take group or individual cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is a time-limited treatment, typically lasting 12 - 14 weeks. Extending this period, however, may help prevent relapse. In fact, some doctors believe that short-term therapy is not effective for patients with chronic or relapsing psychiatric disorders.
Based in part on psychodynamic theory, interpersonal therapy acknowledges the childhood roots of depression, but focuses on symptoms and current issues that may be causing problems. IPT is not as specific as cognitive or behavioral therapy, and all work is done during the sessions. The therapist seeks to redirect the patient's attention, which has been distorted by depression, toward the daily details of social and family interaction. The goals of this treatment method are improved communication skills and increased self-esteem within a short period (3 - 4 months of weekly appointments) of time. Among the forms of depression best served by IPT are those caused by distorted or delayed mourning, unexpressed conflicts with people in close relationships, major life changes, and isolation.
The intent of supportive psychotherapy or attention intervention is to provide the patient with a nonjudgmental environment by offering advice, attention, and sympathy. Supportive therapy appears to be particularly helpful for improving compliance with medications by giving reassurance, especially when setbacks and frustration occur.
ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins--Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin: Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists number 92. Use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy and lactation. Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Apr;111(4):1001-20.
Adams SM, Miller KE, Zylstra RG. Pharmacologic management of adult depression. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Mar 15;77(6):785-92.
Allen JJ, Schnyer RN, Chambers AS, Hitt SK, Moreno FA, Manber R. Acupuncture for depression: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006 Nov;67(11):1665-73.
Alwan S, Reefhuis J, Rasmussen SA, Olney RS, Friedman JM; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors in pregnancy and the risk of birth defects. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jun 28;356(26):2684-92.
Belmaker RH, Agam G. Major depressive disorder. N Engl J Med. 2008 Jan 3;358(1):55-68.
Bridge JA, Iyengar S, Salary CB, et al. Clinical response and risk for reported suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in pediatric antidepressant treatment: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA. 2007 Apr 18;297(15):1683-96.
Cheung AH, Zuckerbrot RA, Jensen PS, Ghalib K, Laraque D, Stein RE; GLAD-PC Steering Group. Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care (GLAD-PC): II. Treatment and ongoing management. Pediatrics. 2007 Nov;120(5):e1313-26.
Frederikse M, Petrides G, Kellner C. Continuation and maintenance electroconvulsive therapy for the treatment of depressive illness: a response to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence report. J ECT. 2006 Mar;22(1):13-7.
Gartlehner G, Gaynes BN, Hansen RA, Thieda P, DeVeaugh-Geiss A, Krebs EE, et al. Comparative benefits and harms of second-generation antidepressants: background paper for the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2008 Nov 18;149(10):734-50.
Janicak PG, O'Reardon JP, Sampson SM, Husain MM, Lisanby SH, Rado JT, et al. Transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of major depressive disorder: a comprehensive summary of safety experience from acute exposure, extended exposure, and during reintroduction treatment. J Clin Psychiatry. 2008 Feb;69(2):222-32.
Golden SH, Lazo M, Carnethon M, Bertoni AG, Schreiner PJ, Roux AV, et al.Examining a bidirectional association between depressive symptoms and diabetes. JAMA. 2008 Jun 18;299(23):2751-9.
Gross M, Nakamura L, Pascual-Leone A, Fregni F. Has repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment for depression improved? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing the recent vs. the earlier rTMS studies. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2007 Sep;116(3):165-73.
Hetrick S, Merry S, McKenzie J, Sindahl P, Proctor M. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depressive disorders in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD004851.
Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Health Care Guideline: Major Depression in Adults in Primary Care. Tenth addition. May 2007.
Jarema M. Atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of mood disorders. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2007 Jan;20(1):23-9.
Kellner CH, Knapp RG, Petrides G, et al. Continuation electroconvulsive therapy vs pharmacotherapy for relapse prevention in major depression: a multisite study from the Consortium for Research in Electroconvulsive Therapy (CORE). Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 Dec;63(12):1337-44.
Krishnan KR. Revisiting monoamine oxidase inhibitors. J Clin Psychiatry. 2007;68 Suppl 8:35-41.
Lin PY, Su KP. A meta-analytic review of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids. J Clin Psychiatry. 2007 Jul;68(7):1056-61.
Louik C, Lin AE, Werler MM, Hernández-Díaz S, Mitchell AA. First-trimester use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and the risk of birth defects. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jun 28;356(26):2675-83.
Mahmoud RA, Pandina GJ, Turkoz I, et al. Risperidone for treatment-refractory major depressive disorder: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Nov 6;147(9):593-602.
Pratt LA and Brody DJ. Depression in the United States Household Population, 2005 - 2006. NCHS Data Brief. No. 7. September 2008.
Qaseem A, Snow V, Denberg TD, Forciea MA, Owens DK; Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of American College of Physicians. Using second-generation antidepressants to treat depressive disorders: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2008 Nov 18;149(10):725-33.
Rapaport MH. Dietary restrictions and drug interactions with monoamine oxidase inhibitors: the state of the art. J Clin Psychiatry. 2007;68 Suppl 8:42-6.
Rohan KJ, Roecklein KA, Tierney Lindsey K, et al. A randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy, light therapy, and their combination for seasonal affective disorder. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007 Jun;75(3):489-500.
Ruhé HG, Huyser J, Swinkels JA, Schene AH. Switching antidepressants after a first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in major depressive disorder: a systematic review. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006 Dec;67(12):1836-55.
Stewart JW. Treating depression with atypical features. J Clin Psychiatry. 2007;68 Suppl 3:25-9.
Thachil AF, Mohan R, Bhugra D. The evidence base of complementary and alternative therapies in depression. J Affect Disord. 2007 Jan;97(1-3):23-35. Epub 2006 Aug 22.
Zuckerbrot RA, Cheung AH, Jensen PS, Stein RE, Laraque D; GLAD-PC Steering Group. Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care (GLAD-PC): I. Identification, assessment, and initial management. Pediatrics. 2007 Nov;120(5):e1299-312.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885