Health & wellness

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Psychotherapy effective for patients resistant to antidepressants

Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy, may be a good alternative for people with depression for whom antidepressants are not effective, according to a new study — considered the largest randomized trial looking at the benefits of psychotherapy in such patients.

The study, conducted by researchers in Britain, looked at 469 people ages 18 to 75 whose depression symptoms remained after taking antidepressant medication for six weeks or more. Between November 2008 and October 2011, participants either underwent cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or continued taking antidepressants while also receiving any type of standard depression care prescribed. Their standard care may have included counseling, or even CBT.

Nearly half of those in the CBT group experienced a 50 percent reduction in depression symptoms after six months compared with only 22 percent within the standard care group, the study found. After one year, patients in the group offered CBT were three times more likely to have cut their depression symptoms in half compared with those in the standard treatment group.


BOTTOM LINE: Cognitive behavioral therapy may be a good alternative for people with depression for whom antidepressants are not effective.

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CAUTIONS: The physicians treating the study participants knew the treatment course their patients were receiving and may have overestimated the benefits of CBT. However, some of the participants assigned to receive standard depression care may have undergone CBT, resulting in the study underestimating therapy benefits.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Lancet, Dec. 7

Perception of big meal may make you feel full

The perceived size of a meal could be enough to make a person feel full, even if the amount of food eaten was not as big, according to researchers at the University of Bristol in Britain.

One hundred study participants were first shown either a small or large bowl of soup that they were expected to eat. While they were drinking the soup, the scientists manipulated the amount of soup with an undetectable pump in the bowl.

Immediately after the meal, the participants’ reported level of hunger matched the amount of soup they actually consumed, regardless of the size of the bowl. However, both two and three hours after the meal, perception overrode reality. The participants who perceived drinking more soup because they were given a larger bowl were more likely to report feeling full, compared with those who thought they drank less soup because their bowl was smaller.


Previous research found that reminding people about the amount they ate during a previous meal may make them feel less hungry. This study suggests that even without a reminder of their portion, perception may be strong enough to influence how soon they’re likely to have their next meal. The finding may contribute to an effective method for portion control, the authors said.

BOTTOM LINE: The perception of eating a large meal could be enough to make a person feel full, even if the actual amount was not as big.

CAUTIONS: Researchers did not test whether the participants’ perceptions influenced how much they ate during their subsequent meals.