Talk Therapy May Reduce Depression for Patients With Dementia

Close up of a senior woman on a video call with her therapist
Talk therapy may alleviate depression and improve quality of life for people with dementia.

HealthDay News Talk therapy may alleviate depression and improve quality of life for people with dementia, according to a review published online April 25 in the Cochrane Library.

Vasiliki Orgeta, PhD, from University College London, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to assess the clinical effectiveness of psychological interventions compared to treatment as usual or a control intervention in reducing depression and anxiety in people with dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Interventions included cognitive behavioral therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral activation, problem-solving therapy), supportive and counseling therapies, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and interpersonal therapies.

Based on 29 studies (including 2599 participants), the researchers found that psychological treatments based on cognitive behavioral therapy had small positive effects on reducing depression and improving quality of life and activities of daily living in people with dementia or MCI versus control, while supportive and counseling interventions had little or no effect on depressive symptoms. Evidence was lacking to determine whether any psychological treatments are helpful for anxiety in people with dementia or MCI.

“There is now good enough quality evidence to support the use of psychological treatments for people with dementia, rather than prescribing medications, and without the risk of drug side effects,” a coauthor said in a statement. “What we need now is more clinicians opting for talk therapies for their patients and commitment to funding further high-quality research in this area.”

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