Objective: The authors' goal was to determine whether cognitive behavioral treatment of residual symptoms of depression might have a significant effect on relapse rate.
Method: A 6-year follow-up assessment was conducted of 40 patients with primary major depressive disorder who had been successfully treated with antidepressants and were randomly assigned to either cognitive behavioral treatment of residual symptoms or standard clinical management.
Results: Ten of the patients (50%) in the cognitive behavioral treatment group and 15 (75%) in the standard clinical management group relapsed. The difference did not attain statistical significance. When multiple relapses were considered, patients in the cognitive behavioral treatment group had a significantly lower number of depressive episodes than those in the standard clinical management group. Patients responded to the same antidepressant drug used in the index episode; in two cases (4%), resistance occurred.
Conclusions: The protective effects of cognitive behavioral treatment that were evident at 4-year follow-up faded afterward. Cognitive behavioral treatment of residual symptoms, however, improved the long-term outcome of major depression in terms of total number of episodes during the follow-up period.