Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy Proven to Be Highly Effective in Treating Depression in Geriatric Patients


Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy Proven to Be Highly Effective in Treating Depression in Geriatric Patients

By: Laura P. Etre, Psy.D.
Chief Psychology Officer

In a study published by the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA) in April, it has been shown via a randomized, controlled trial that cognitive behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) is not only feasible, but incredibly effective for treating depression in geriatric patients.

While psychotherapy has been increasingly valued in long-term care settings, the results of this study further legitimize psychotherapy as a go-to intervention for residents with psychiatric illness. The trial involved a control group of depressed patients who didn’t receive CBT, along with a group who received CBT intervention for their depression through a 15-session, manualized program. The results were clear: the CBT group had significantly lower scores on multiple rating scales for depression compared to the control group after four months.

A large percentage of residents in long-term care present with some form of depression, ranging from severe chronic major depressive disorder to an adjustment disorder with depressed mood.  Some estimates indicate that up to 60 percent of residents present with significant depressive symptoms.   Given all that residents are up against, managing considerable medical and environmental stressors with limited control over their lives, this should not be surprising.  When left untreated, depression not only impacts quality of life but also medical outcomes.

At MedOptions, we used evidence-based treatment approaches including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).  CBT is an effective approach for residents who have the requisite cognitive capacity to benefit from this modality.  MedOptions clinical protocols incorporate neurocognitive testing at the outset of treatment to help determine whether a resident is a good candidate for CBT. In addition, given the published evidence that CBT is effective via Telehealth, through TeleHealth powered by MedOptions, we are also able to reach patients located in rural areas who normally would only have limited access to this type of treatment. With CBT as a proven viable option for managing and reducing the severity of depression, it is an important tool for clinicians that can have a direct impact on a resident’s well-being.