Jarret, R. B., Minhajuddin, A., Gershenfeld, H., Friedman, E. S., & Thase, M. E. (2013). Preventing depressive relapse and recurrence in higher-risk cognitive therapy responders: A randomized trial of continuation phase cognitive therapy, fluoxetine, or matched pill placebo. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(11), 1152-1160. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1969
A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry showed Cognitive Therapy (CT) to be as effective as medication (Fluoxetine) in reducing the risk of major depressive disorder (MDD) relapse. Participants in the current study included 523 adults with a diagnosis of MDD and a score of 14 or higher on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. They were recruited from clinical referrals and advertisements during 2000 to 2008. Researchers employed a sequential, 3-stage design with an acute phase in which all patients received 12 weeks of CT; an 8-month experimental phase in which responders at higher risk were randomized to receive either a continuation of CT, fluoxetine, or a pill placebo; and a 24-month longitudinal, posttreatment follow up. At the end of the 8-month experimental stage, participants were assessed without treatment at 4 month intervals, continuing for 32 months. Results showed that CT and fluoxetine had almost equal relapse rates during the 8-month experimental phase, which were maintained during the assessment following termination of treatment. While further research is needed to fully understand the differences between psychopharmacological treatment and CT for depression, these finding suggest that CT is a valid alternative to drug therapies.