Comparison of cognitive-behaviour therapy with psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy for depressed patients - a three-year follow-up study

Z Psychosom Med Psychother. 2012;58(3):299-316. doi: 10.13109/zptm.2012.58.3.299.


Objective: The study investigates the effectiveness of long-term psychotherapies. Cognitive-behaviour therapy was compared with psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy in the treatment of patients with a primary diagnosis of unipolar depression.

Method: In a prospective, quasi-experimental design 100 patients were compared at pre- and post-treatment and three-year follow-up. Outcome measures were the Beck Depression Inventory and Global Severity Index for measuring symptoms, the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems and the Social Support Questionnaire for measurement of social-interpersonal functioning, and the INTREX Introject Questionnaire for measuring personality structure. Comparative effectiveness of the experimental groups was analyzed using mixed models.

Results: We found significant outcome differences between psychoanalytic therapy and cognitive-behaviour therapy in depressive and global psychiatric symptoms, partly social-interpersonal and personality structure at three-year follow-up. Psychodynamic therapy was superior to cognitive-behaviour therapy in the reduction of interpersonal problems.

Conclusion: Psychoanalytic therapy shows significantly longer-lasting effects compared to cognitive-behaviour therapy three years after termination of treatment, which is discussed as a dose-effect.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Dysthymic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Dysthymic Disorder / psychology
  • Dysthymic Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy / methods*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires