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Evidence for CBT

Evidence for CBT

CBT is a scientifically validated, evidence-based treatment, which research shows is the most effective form of ‘talking therapy’ for a wide range of common emotional and physical health problems.

Because of its proven efficacy, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend that everyone should be offered CBT as the first-line treatment for depression and anxiety problems, as an alternative to antidepressant treatment.

Summary of evidence for the effectiveness for CBT:

Emotional and Mental Health

Physical Health and Long Term Conditions

Cancer and palliative care

Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS)

Children and young people

Occupational and workplace problems

CBT is highly effective for a wide range of common mental health conditions. It is as effective as antidepressant treatment for depression and may reduce the risk of relapse after treatment has been completed. It is also highly effective for a wide range of anxiety disorders.  CBT has been show to be effective in the treatment of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders including panic disorder, generalised anxiety and worry, phobia and performance anxiety
  • Social anxiety and shyness
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • General stress

CBT has also been shown to be extremely effective for improving physical symptoms and emotional distress associated with a wide range of physical health problems and long-term conditions including:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pain and fatigue
  • Musculoskeletal conditions including back pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Respiratory conditions including asthma and COPD
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders
  • Promoting positive health and healthy lifestyles

CBT is effective for the treatment of depression in patients with cancer.  CBT can also be adapted and utilised to reduce patients’ symptoms of low mood, anxiety and pain in the palliative care setting.  There is emerging evidence that palliative care practitioners can be trained effectively to undertake brief CBT with their patients.

CBT has also been shown to be beneficial in the management of medically unexplained symptoms and functional somatic disorders including:

  • Health anxiety and somatisation: persistent fear of developing serious illness
  • Functional somatic syndromes such as chronic pelvic pain, non-cardiac chest pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic back pain

CBT offers an effective psychological intervention for childhood depression.  NICE guidelines recommend the use of CBT as a first line treatment for children and young people with moderate to severe depression.  CBT is also a highly effective psychological treatment for anxiety disorders in young people, and is the most effective talking therapy for eating disorders.  CBT may also be beneficial in reducing disruptive classroom behaviours and aggressive/antisocial behaviours, and shows some efficacy in managing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Mental health problems affect many working individuals.   The presence of emotional and mental health problems leads to an adverse effect on work performance due to fatigue, poor concentration and memory problems. The cost of presenteeism in the UK alone is estimated to be £15.1 billion each year.

Mental health conditions are also some of the commonest reasons for workplace absence, and  account for a high proportion of long-­term sickness absence. The UK cost of absenteeism is estimated to be £8.4 billion.

Emotional factors are also strongly implicated in the long-term work outcomes for people with chronic physical conditions such as chronic back pain.

CBT has been shown to be effective in treatment of depression and anxiety and associated with increased rates of return to work after therapy and is likely to improve functioning, resilience and performance within the workplace.