PI Therapy as effective as CBT in depression/anxiety

Wednesday, 05 August, 2020

PI Therapy as effective as CBT in depression/anxiety

A treatment for depression and anxiety developed at Murdoch University has been shown to be as effective as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), the current gold-standard treatment.

Personalised Integrative Therapy (PI Therapy) — developed by Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr Adrian Lopresti — is a holistic and multi-targeted treatment for depression and anxiety.

“There are many factors that can contribute to depression and anxiety, including lifestyle, dietary and biological causes,” Dr Lopresti said.

“Typically, depression and anxiety are treated with psychological therapies like CBT, antidepressant medications or a combination of both. However, these often do not target all the potential factors that may contribute to a person’s depression or anxiety.”

PI Therapy uses psychological, dietary, lifestyle, social and biological strategies to enhance mental and physical wellbeing.

With results published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, the study led by Dr Lopresti used a three-armed approach in examining adults with depression and/or anxiety. One group received PI Therapy delivered alone, another received cognitive behaviour therapy. A third group, PI Therapy plus supplements, was added to examine whether the addition of nutritional supplements to an integrative intervention could further enhance treatment outcomes.

Treatment was delivered as a one-day workshop plus weekly text messages to reinforce the skills covered in the workshop. The study examined changes in affective symptoms, sleep quality, overall life quality, diet and exercise habits.

The team found that PI Therapy, with or without supplements, was as effective as CBT in the treatment of depression and anxiety in adults.

“At the end of treatment, 33% to 58% of participants reported levels of depressive symptoms in the normal range, and 50% to 58% reported nonclinical levels of anxiety.

“These findings suggest that a brief integrative intervention, with or without supplements, is just as effective as brief CBT in reducing the symptoms of depression or anxiety.”

Dr Lopresti said the findings showed PI Therapy delivered greater impact on sleep quality when paired with additional nutritional supplements in comparison to CBT.

“By developing new treatment interventions and delivery formats like PI Therapy we seek to overcome some of the treatment barriers associated with standard psychological therapies and antidepressant medications.

“CBT requires sound intellectual competence, a willingness to disclose personal information, transportation to attend sessions and both the time and willingness to attend at least 10 to 20 regular sessions.

“Pharmaceutical antidepressants are associated with adverse effects including nausea, weight gain, fatigue, headache, sexual dysfunction and sedation.”

These adverse effects are commonly cited as reasons for treatment refusal and early discontinuation. The incorporation of new treatment targets such as those covered in PI Therapy may go a long way in increasing treatment success and accessibility.

Researchers hope to identify funding sources to replicate the study using a larger sample size.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/dglimages

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