Is there any evidence that supports the idea that a severe depression/anxiety can't be treated with CBT?

Since, it's in severe state, and one has to use anti-depressants to lower the level, and then obviously CBT can help reduce a moderate to low level depression. Is a severe depression/anxiety too strong to be healed by CBT, and it makes the usage of anti-depressants necessary?


1 Answer 1


Yes, that is the consensus view among psychiatrists and clinical psychologists (e.g., Parker et al., 2012). A commonly referenced authoritative guideline for treatment of major depressive disorder is the NICE guide.

Parker et al., Acta Psychiatr Scand (2013); 128(4): 271-81

  • $\begingroup$ A study done with only 18 people over only 3 months, to me, doesn't seem to be even close to convincing. $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2019 at 17:53
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    $\begingroup$ @WilliamOliver - While I understand that the number of subjects might be a little low for your liking, 3 months is definitely long enough for an initial study, seeing as CBT (Cognitive Based Therapy) is inherently designed for a maximum of 6-12 sessions. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2023 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers that is a fair point. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2023 at 13:44

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