Cognitive behavioural therapy for older adults with depression: a review

J Ment Health. 2015 Jun;24(3):168-71. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2014.971143. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


Background: Depression is a major public health concern of global significance. The illness diminishes overall quality of life and has been associated with significant distress and disability in physical, interpersonal, and social role functioning. Over the past few decades, a consensus has evolved that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be an effective treatment for depression in older adults; however, little attention has been given to its effect on them.

Aims: The purpose of this review was to examine the current use of CBT and its effect on older adults with depression.

Method: A web-based literature search was performed to identify original research articles published from 2000 to 2013 using a three-step search strategy.

Results: Evidence indicates that cognitive behavioural therapies are likely to be efficacious in older people when compared with treatment as usual. This is consistent with the findings of several systematic reviews and meta-analyses undertaken across a wider age range.

Conclusions: Given that many older adults with depression are reluctant to accept antidepressant medication or unable to tolerate their side effects, CBT can be used as an option in treating depression in older adults.

Keywords: CBT,; cognitive behavioural therapy,; cognitive therapy,; depression,; older adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome