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Cognitive behaviour therapy and inflammation: A systematic review of its relationship and the potential implications for the treatment of depression

Lopresti, A.L. (2017) Cognitive behaviour therapy and inflammation: A systematic review of its relationship and the potential implications for the treatment of depression. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 51 (6). pp. 565-582.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867417701996
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Abstract

Objective: There is growing evidence confirming increased inflammation in a subset of adults with depression. The impact of this relationship has mostly been considered in biologically based interventions; however, it also has potential implications for psychological therapies. Cognitive behaviour therapy is the most commonly used psychological intervention for the treatment of depression with theories around its efficacy primarily based on psychological mechanisms. However, cognitive behaviour therapy may have an effect on, and its efficacy influenced by, physiological processes associated with depression. Accordingly, the purpose of this systematic review was to examine the relationship between cognitive behaviour therapy and inflammation.
Method: Studies examining the anti-inflammatory effects of cognitive behaviour therapy in people with depression and other medical conditions (e.g. cancer, diabetes and heart disease) were examined. In addition, the relationship between change in inflammatory markers and change in depressive symptoms following cognitive behaviour therapy, and the influence of pre-treatment inflammation on cognitive behaviour therapy treatment response were reviewed.
Results: A total of 23 studies investigating the anti-inflammatory effects of cognitive behaviour therapy were identified. In 14 of these studies, at least one reduction in an inflammatory marker was reported, increases were identified in three studies and no change was found in six studies. Three studies examined the relationship between change in inflammation and change in depressive symptoms following cognitive behaviour therapy. In two of these studies, change in depressive symptoms was associated with a change in at least one inflammatory marker. Finally, three studies examined the influence of pre-treatment inflammation on treatment outcome from cognitive behaviour therapy, and all indicated a poorer treatment response in people with higher premorbid inflammation.
Conclusion: Preliminary evidence suggests inflammation should be considered within the context of cognitive behaviour therapy, although robust studies examining the relationship are sparse, and heterogeneity between studies and populations examined was high. The potential treatment implications of the bi-directional relationship between inflammation and cognitive behaviour therapy are discussed, and recommendations for future research are proposed.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Sage
Copyright: © 2017 by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/36990
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