How Primary Caregivers Can Help Treat Depression and Anxiety

A team of researchers at University College London, led by John Cape, have undertaken an ambitious meta-analysis of 34 studies (covering 2963 patients) to compare different types of treatment for depression and anxiety. The studies measured the effectiveness of several types of therapy in relation to depression, anxiety, and a combination of the two. The therapies addressed included brief cognitive behavioral therapy from a primary care physician, extended cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, and problem solving therapy.

The results found that for anxiety disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy was effective; for both depression and depression-anxiety overlap, cognitive behavioral therapy, problem solving therapy, and counseling were equally effective. Beyond these broad conclusions, the study looked particularly at whether brief cognitive behavioral therapy (approximately six weeks in length) conducted by a primary care professional would have any benefit for patients dealing with depression and anxiety. The result was that yes, even brief therapy is effective. However, while brief therapy was effective, the research strongly indicates that longer therapy and counseling from a secondary care professional (such as a psychotherapist or psychologist) was even more effective.

This suggests that training physicians (who often refer patients to psychotherapists anyway) in cognitive behavioral therapy can have a positive outcome for patients, as it provides a direct source for treatment with a doctor they may already see regularly to begin with. However, for strong or long-lasting anxiety or depression, turning to a licensed therapist who specializes specifically in helping patients overcome anxiety and depression is an even more effective way of addressing the problem. Licensed therapists have the experience and specialization to help work with patients on a variety of therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, problem solving therapy, and others). Even more importantly, a good therapist can help determine which type of treatment will be most helpful for each individual patient.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • cal

    June 28th, 2010 at 4:30 AM

    The trick is getting patients to commit to longer term treatment. Many just want a quick fix and somehow long term therapy does not fit into that plan. But if it is proven to be more beneficial to stay in treatment long term then maybe more famiies will begin pushing for this scenario and this will come to be the standard instead of against the grain.

  • Hyland

    June 28th, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Does this imply that simply because a particular doctor is one that a patient sees on a long term basis will be the one to offer this care rather than getting treatment for him or her with a therapist. If that is the case then that is wrong! I am all for getting a patient treatment with a doctor that he or she feels comfortable with but it might be overstepping bounds when you allow a non practicing therapist the opportunity to practice in an area where they are not trained. Why not work in conjunction with the therapy community to get someone to a counselor who can be truly beneficial for them instead of someone taking on the job who may not can do it right?

  • T.Cole

    June 28th, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Yes,going to a professional for therapeutic help is the best way forward and the same has been proven by various studies and surveys.But it would be better if general physicians would also know a few things about this so that they can help out someone immediately,before the person is actually sent to a professional.You know,like a first-aid or something…this not only comforts the person but also gives more scope for general physicians.

  • neuer wilkinson

    June 29th, 2010 at 2:31 AM

    so many times we have heard of cases wherein a person goes to his physician but then due to the delay of seeing a therapy expert or not actually being able to afford the therapy results in suicide or further degradation of the even physicians to handle such situation and giving at least the initial push will be a great boon to a lot of people.

  • Ona

    June 29th, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    Primary caregivers are the ones the older populations come to trust the most because these are the doctors that they tend to see the most. It only makes sense that if they can also help them in another area where the person needs help or even medications that the primary caregiver or physician should be somewhat well versed about what is going on be able to offer them a remedy without necessarily having to see someone new.

  • james

    July 15th, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    can you please give me some advice or do you know of any anxiety specailist in philadelphia-please let me know or contact me @ 267.401.6341 . thank you

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