Lasting Relief From Anxiety?

Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety has both short and long term effects

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A growing percentage of people experience some sort of anxiety disorder in their lifetime, making treatment options all the more important.

The short-term benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety has been well documented, but do those benefits continue to last?

A recent study examined both the immediate and long-term effects of CBT for people suffering from anxiety. It found that CBT can have both immediate and lasting positive effects.

"Anxiety is treatable--talk to your therapist!"

Jennifer DiMauro, a researcher at the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living and Hartford Hospital of Hartford Connecticut led a team of researchers in what they considered a “naturalistic” study of CBT.

Unlike previous studies, the participants were treated in traditional fee-for-service settings. The researchers considered this a more “natural” setting for therapy. Participants were also included in the study whether they had more than one diagnosis or not.

The researchers wanted to understand the true effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in real settings, not just research settings.

A total of 181 adult participants completed all phases of treatment, including the one-year follow-up. The therapists they saw practiced cognitive behavioral therapy exclusively.

Each person was assessed before beginning CBT, immediately following their series of CBT sessions, and then again at a one-year follow-up. The participants completed an average of 14 treatment sessions.

Directly following treatment, 113 people or 62 percent of the participants met the testing requirements for “very much improved” or “much improved”. At the one-year follow-up, 77 percent of those 113 people had maintained feeling “very much improved” or “much improved”.

Also, 43 percent of the participants reported feeling back to “normal” or only “borderline ill” after the treatment process, and 85 percent of those people maintained that feeling through the one-year follow-up.

These results suggest that whether the participants saw an improvement in symptoms or had a remission of their anxiety all-together, the majority of them maintained these results at the one-year follow-up.

Because of the “naturalistic” approach of this study, the results also suggest that CBT can be effective in both the short and long-term even in a traditional clinic setting, rather than in a self-contained research setting.

This study became available online in October for the journal of Behavior Research and Therapy. No statements of funding nor conflicts of interest were made.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 8, 2012
Last Updated:
November 11, 2012