The following is a summary of the “Effectiveness of an Intensive Inpatient Psychotherapy Program for Chronic Depression: A naturalistic comparison with wait list” published in the November 2022 issue of Psychiatry by Eielsen et al.

Patients with chronic depression (CD) are more likely to experience an early onset of symptoms, to have many treatment efforts, and to spend more time in the hospital than those with major depressive disorders. The primary goal of this research was to examine whether or not a highly structured inpatient psychotherapy treatment for people with persistent depression was useful. The major aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of 2 intense psychodynamic inpatient treatments, affect phobia therapy (APT) and virtual in-patient treatment (VITA), to that of an outpatient waitlist condition, receiving treatment as usual (TAU), at the conclusion of treatment. In addition, the study compared 2 high-intensity therapies with different theoretical underpinnings to see if there was a difference between the intensive treatment group and the wait list control group, and if so, whether that difference was based on the particular psychotherapy model used.

The naturalistic study included 280 CD patients. The patients were evaluated at the beginning of treatment, after treatment, and at the one-year follow-up. Patients were matched across groups, and 3 comparisons were made: intensive inpatient treatment program (APT + VITA) versus waitlist, APT versus VITA during treatment, and APT versus VITA during follow-up. The BDI-II was used as a metric of efficacy. A statistically significant difference was seen between the intensive inpatient treatment program and the waitlist. There were no statistically significant changes between APT and VITA between therapy and follow-up, although both groups showed sizable improvements in outcomes during treatment that persisted into the follow-up period.

There were no statistically significant differences between the 2 intense psychodynamic therapies. However, the intensive inpatient psychotherapy program was more effective than a waitlist condition getting treatment as usual (TAU) for chronic depression. Policymakers and the healthcare sector may profit from the findings as they allocate resources effectively and lend credence to the efficacy of an intensive inpatient psychotherapy program in treating chronic and severe diseases like CD.