An Alternative to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral activation may treat depression as effectively as cognitive behavioral therapy, and at lower cost

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) When it comes to treating depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may have a simpler, less expensive competitor, a new study found.

That competitor is a type of therapy called behavioral activation (BA). The University of Exeter researchers behind this study found that BA might treat depression as effectively as CBT.

And BA is often less expensive and can be administered by lower-level health professionals, these researchers said.

According to a press release about this research, "BA encourages people to focus on meaningful activities driven by their own personal values as a way of overcoming depression." BA therapists encourage patients to seek out positive situations and identify the link between their behaviors and their moods.

CBT looks more at the way patients think to help them identify negative thoughts or beliefs and modify them.

Published recently in The Lancet, this study looked at 440 participants who were being treated for depression. Half received CBT and half received BA. At follow-up points of six, 12 and 18 months, the two groups showed similar levels of improvement, these researchers found.

All the while, BA was around 20 percent cheaper than CBT, these researchers noted.

For help with depression, speak to a health care professional immediately.

The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Program funded this research. Information on conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 1, 2016
Last Updated:
August 4, 2016