Is behavioral activation (BA) an effective treatment for major depressive disorder (clinical depression)?

Updated: Mar 28, 2019
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

BA is efficacious and specific for the treatment of acute depression. [5] There is also evidence suggesting that BA may be particularly well-suited for individuals with more severe depression. A placebo controlled trial compared BA, cognitive therapy (CT), and paroxetine and found that there were no differences between conditions for patients with lower depression severity, but for those with more severe depression, BA and paroxetine performed equivalently and each of those treatments led to greater improvement than the CT condition. [125] While the majority of research on BA has been conducted with adults, there are theoretical reasons to suggest that it may also be efficacious with adolescents [126] and a randomized clinical trial is being conducted to investigate this. In addition, there is some initial support for the use of BA with older adults in nursing home [127, 128] and community settings. [129]


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