Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression

Do you feel sad much of the time?  Does it seem as if nothing feels good, as if you don’t care about anything?  If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, chances are you have depression.  Severe depression or Major Depressive Disorder is a medical illness affecting both the brain and the body.  About 1 in 8 adults suffer from depression at least once in their life time.  Without adequate treatment with psychotherapy and/or medication, major depression can be disruptive to relationships, work or school, often causing serious, and sometimes fatal consequences.  

Psychiatrists (physicians who specialize in mental illness) can help people with Major Depressive Disorder by prescribing well-tested medication to support treatment by psychotherapy.  The overall treatment goal is to address simultaneously biological, psychological, and social factors affecting the person with depression.  The best and most well-studied approach is the combination of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT with medications targeting various neurotransmitter systems in the brain (ex. serotonin).

Recently researchers in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium completed a systematic critical review (meta-analysis) of 23 randomized controlled trials (RCT) involving 2184 adults with Major Depressive Disorder.  The researchers found that the combination of CBT with antidepressant medication was superior to medications alone in helping the study participants become symptom-free after 6 and 12 months.  (Reference below)


If you or a loved one is affected by depression, there is support and advocacy available.  Visit The Mood Disorders Association of Canada for more information.  Talk to your Family Physician or qualified health care professional and use Psychotherapy Matters.


Help is available at Psychotherapy Matters

To find a psychotherapist available to work with individuals struggling with depression, use the link provided here, scroll down to “Help with…” and select “Depression.”



Karyotaki E, Smit Y, Holdt Henningsen K, Huibers MJ, Robays J, de Beurs D, Cuijpers P. Combining pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy or monotherapy for major depression? A meta-analysis on the long-term effects. J Affect Disord. 2016 Apr;194:144-52.  A link to the abstract is available here.



Information provided here and anywhere else on is for learning purposes only and should not be used to guide treatment of clients/patients.  Copyright © 2016

Vicky Nguyen
Vicky Nguyen

Vicky is a psychiatrist and recent graduate from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). She completed her PhD and MD training at the University of Toronto. Her research interests are directed at promoting innovative practices and policies to address sub-optimal wait times, access, equity, and quality of health care services for disadvantaged populations in Ontario. She is certified to provide IPT and CBT. She is trained to provide other types of therapy including DBT, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

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