Etudes originales

Brief Psychotherapy Reduces Depression Associated with Breast Cancer

Brief Psychotherapy Reduces Depression Associated with Breast Cancer

A clinical study evaluated the efficacy of the desensitization and reprogramming method by Eye Movement better known by its abbreviation EMDR to reduce the severity of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

A German randomized controlled trial of Beutel and colleagues, published in the Annals of Oncology journal in 2014, evaluates the effectiveness of a brief psychodynamic psychotherapy for 12 weeks compared to the usual treatment for depression in patients with cancer breast. The results show an improvement in remission rates of depression, quality of life and anxiety and depression symptoms in the psychotherapy group compared to the control group.


The Study Rationale

Breast cancer and its treatment cause serious physical consequences, psychological and social. A depressive disorder is a common mental comorbidity in patients with breast cancer. Approximately 22% of patients are affected. Depression impairs quality of life and adherence to treatment. It worsens the prognosis, particularly because of cancer recurrence.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy aims to change the intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts underlying mental disorders. This is an individual psychotherapy. The study focuses on evaluating its effectiveness in reducing depressive disorders in women with breast cancer.

A brief psychodynamic psychotherapy she is effective in reducing the risk of recurrence of depression and to improve the quality of life in patients with non-metastatic breast cancer?

The Question

A brief theoretical psychoanalytic psychotherapy decreases inspiration-she relapses of depression and she improves the quality of life of patients with breast cancer?

The Method

The randomized controlled Beutel and colleagues published in 2014 is testing the effectiveness of a brief psychodynamic psychotherapy for depression. The study focused on 157 patients aged between 18 and 69 years. Patients were recruited from oncology institutions of two German study centers. The study recruited patients who underwent surgery for nonmetastatic breast cancer. Patients must have a diagnosis of depression, and recurrent depression, dysthymia or adjustment disorder. The non-drug intervention was proposed during cancer treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy).

Patients were randomly placed either in the group receiving brief psychotherapy, either in the control group following routine care. Measures of anxiety-depressive symptomatology and quality of life were performed at the beginning of operation, the end of surgery (6 months).

The Non-Pharmacological Intervention (NPI) assessed

The brief psychodynamic psychotherapy aims to help patients deal with feelings of hopelessness and suicidal tendencies. The non-drug intervention includes one session per week for 20 weeks. The intervention could be shortened by mutual agreement if the objectives were achieved. 20 psychodynamic psychotherapists specialize in a liberal were recruited. A manual has been developed so that clinical psychologists working in the same way.

Main Results

The results show a depression remission rate almost twice as high in the psychotherapy group (44%) compared to the control group (23%) at the end of intervention. The anxiety and depression symptoms are further reduced and the quality of life has improved in the psychotherapy group compared with the control group. The average number of brief psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions was 18.

The depression remission rate is two times higher in the group receiving psychodynamic psychotherapy brief compared to the control group.


What it means for Patients

The patients with breast cancer who receive a brief psychodynamic psychotherapy had a remission rate of depression twice as patients following routine care. Their quality of life and symptoms anxiety and depression are also found improved.

What it means for Healthcare Professionals

A program of 20 to psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions with one session per week improves the rate of depression remission, quality of life and symptoms of anxiety and depression patients treated for breast cancer and suffering from depression proved.

What it means for Researchers

This clinical trial is the first to test the effectiveness of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for the reduction of clinical depression in patients with breast cancer. Little is mentioned in the publication on the content of 20 psychotherapy sessions.

What it means for Policymakers

The depression remission rate in patients treated for breast cancer after 20 psychotherapy sessions is almost doubled compared to routine care.


The Reference

Beutel ME, Weissflog G, Leuteritz K, Wiltink J, Haselbacher A, Ruckes C, Kuhnt S, Barthel Y, Imruck BH, Zwerenz R, Brähler E (2014). Efficacy of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP) with depressed breast cancer patients: results of a randomized controlled multicenter trial. Annals of Oncology, 25, 378-384.


Related articles on Blog en Sante ©

Same topic

Same population

Same non-pharmacological intervention


To reference this Blog en Sante © article

Ninot G (2016). Brief Psychotherapy Reduces Depression Associated with Breast Cancer. Blog en Sante, A74.

© Copyright 2016 Gregory Ninot. All rights reserved.

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