Tavistock Adult Depression Study

A Tavistock Adult Depression provides significant evidence for the efficacy of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy for people suffering from chronic depression.

Started over ten years ago, the study is the first randomized controlled trial to establish if this type of psychotherapy can help people not helped by treatments currently provided: antidepressants, short-term courses of counselling or cognitive behavioral therapy.

The study found that:

  • 44% of the patients who were given 18 months of weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy no longer had major depressive disorder when followed up two years after therapy had ended; for those receiving treatments currently provided by the NHS, the figure was 10%
  • While just 14% of those receiving the psychoanalytic psychotherapy had recovered completely, full recovery occurred in only 4% of those receiving the treatments currently provided by the NHS
  • In every 6-month period of the trial’s exceptional 3 ½ years of observation of participants, the chances of going into partial remission for those receiving psychoanalytic psychotherapy were 40% higher than for those who were receiving the usual treatments
  • After two years of follow-up, depressive symptoms had partially remitted in 30% of those receiving the psychoanalytic therapy; in the control condition this figure was again only 4%
  • Those receiving the psychoanalytic psychotherapy also saw significantly more benefits to their quality of life, general wellbeing and social and personal functioning
  • Some patients did not benefit and research is ongoing to identify the reasons underlying the differences in responsiveness.

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