1 Mental Health Unit, National Centre of Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion, Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy
2 Italian Society for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy (SITCC), Rome, Italy
In the last decades, psychotherapy has gained increasing acceptance as a major treatment option for mood disorders. Empirically supported treatments for major depression include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), behavioural therapy and, to a lesser extent, short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. Meta-analytic evidence suggests that psychotherapy has a significant and clinically relevant, though not large, effect on chronic forms of depression. Psychotherapy with chronic patients should take into account several important differences between patients with chronic and acute depression (identification with their depressive illness, more severe social skill deficits, persistent sense of hopelessness, need of more time to adapt to better circumstances). Regarding adolescent depression, the effectiveness of IPT and CBT is empirically supported. Adolescents require appropriate modifications of treatment (developmental approach to psychotherapy, involvement of parents in therapy). The combination of psychotherapy and medication has recently attracted substantial interest; the available evidence suggests that combined treatment has small but significant advantages over each treatment modality alone, and may have a protective effect against depression relapse or recurrence. Psychobiological models overcoming a rigid brain-mind dichotomy may help the clinician give patients a clear rationale for the combination of psychological and pharmacological treatment. In recent years, evidence has accumulated regarding the effectiveness of psychological therapies (CBT, family-focused therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, psychoeducation) as an adjunct to medication in bipolar disorder. These therapies share several common elements and there is considerable overlap in their actual targets. Psychological interventions were found to be useful not only in the treatment of bipolar depressive episodes, but in all phases of the disorder.
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* Address correspondence to this author at the Italian National Institute of Health, Centre of Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion, Mental Health Unit, Viale Regina Elena, 299 - 00161 Rome, Italy;
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