Indexed on: 04 May '07Published on: 04 May '07Published in: The American journal of psychiatry
The purpose of this article was to determine the relative efficacy of a psychotherapy program when combined with pharmacotherapy versus medication and clinical management in more severely depressed patients.A randomized controlled trial was conducted in 124 hospitalized patients with DSM-IV major depressive disorder that compared 5 weeks of interpersonal psychotherapy modified for depressed inpatients (15 individual and eight group sessions) plus pharmacotherapy with a regimen that involved medication plus intensive clinical management. The study included a prospective, naturalistic follow-up 3 and 12 months after acute treatment in 97 of 105 treatment completers. The 17-item version of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) was the primary outcome measure.For the intent-to-treat cohort (N=124), analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) showed that patients treated with interpersonal psychotherapy had a significantly greater reduction of depressive symptoms at week 5. Response rates differed significantly between the two treatment conditions, favoring the group that received adjuvant interpersonal psychotherapy (70%) versus clinical management (51%). Remission rates also tended to be higher for patients in the interpersonal psychotherapy group (49% versus 34%). Patients who initially responded to interpersonal psychotherapy exhibited greater treatment gains at the 3-month follow-up evaluation, since only 3% of these subjects relapsed, compared with 25% of the clinical management subjects. Nine months later, this difference lost statistical significance.An inpatient treatment program with both brief and intensive psychotherapy plus pharmacotherapy is superior to standard treatment. The results, which add to a growing body of evidence, suggest that this combination treatment may offer an advantage over treatment with medication and clinical management for more severely depressed patients.