HealthDay News — Behavioral activation therapy is as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy for treating depression in adults, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The study included 440 adults with depression who were assigned to receive either behavioral activation therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.

One year after the start of therapy, about two-thirds of patients remaining in both groups had at least 50% fewer depression symptoms. Both groups also had similar numbers of depression-free days and anxiety diagnoses, and were equally likely to achieve remission. Treatment costs for patients in the behavioral activation group were 20% lower than for those in the cognitive behavioral therapy group, the researchers said.

“Our findings challenge the dominance of cognitive behavioral therapy as the leading evidence-based psychological therapy for depression,” lead author David Richards, PhD, professor of mental health services research at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, said in a journal news release.


Richards D, Ekers D, McMillan D et al. Cost and Outcome of Behavioural Activation versus Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression (COBRA): a randomised, controlled, non-inferiority trial. The Lancet. 2016. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)31140-0.