Question: How effective is cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of depression?
Answer: Cognitive behavioral therapy is a particular type of short-term focused psychotherapy that really focuses on depressive thoughts, depressive patterns of thinking that an individual has. The theory behind cognitive behavioral therapy simply put is that if you can change a person's pattern of thinking, if you can change them from thinking in a very depressed and negative way to a more positive, hopeful, and optimistic way, that that may help them to get over their depressive illness.
There have been a number of studies that have suggested that cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT can be very helpful in getting somebody over depression. In less severe cases of depression, CBT appears to be about as effective as medication, as antidepressant medication, for getting somebody over depression. For more severe cases of depression, it seems that medication is probably somewhat more effective than CBT probably because it's more difficult for somebody who's more severely depressed to engage in the psychotherapeutic process.
Overall, it does seem that the most effective kind of therapy is not either psychotherapy or medication, but a combination of the two. That seems to be the type of approach to the patient that not only helps somebody get well most often but also help somebody stay well. We do know that in the first year during the recovery from depression that if somebody is getting CBT along with medication, they stand the greatest chance not just of getting over their depression, but of staying well for the long haul.