Chronic depression

Depression treatment doesn’t always work – whether you’re using medication, counselling or therapy. In fact, up to two-thirds of people who suffer from depression won’t be helped by their initial antidepressant and between 12{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4} and 20{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4} of them won’t respond to a number of alternative methods of treatment.

This persistent, chronic or treatment-resistant depression can be a real blow to people who have struggled to ask for help in the first place and can be extremely demoralising when the search for successful treatment takes months or even years.

But research in the UK published late last year has revealed long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy (LTPP) yielded much better results over the course of treatment compared to current UK National Health Service treatments and that remission from depression increased in follow-up meetings.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy aims to address psychological and personal issues which underlie chronic depression and, in these trials, was provided weekly over 18 months in a series of 50-minute sessions as an alternative for anti-depressants or short-term courses of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.

The study of 129 people also included assessments at 24, 30 and 42 months following the initial 18-month treatment.

The results of the Tavistock Adult Depression Study have shown LTPP offers real benefits for those battling persistent or chronic depression:

  • 44{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4} of the patients who were given 18 months of weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy no longer had major depressive disorder when followed up two years after therapy had ended; for those receiving the NHS treatments currently provided the figure was only 10{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4}.
  • Although just 14{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4} of those receiving the psychoanalytic psychotherapy had recovered completely, full recovery occurred in only 4{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4} of those receiving the treatments currently employed.
  • In every 6-months period of the trial’s exceptional 3½ years of observation of participants, the chances of going into partial remission for those receiving psychoanalytic psychotherapy were 40{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4} higher than for those who were receiving the usual treatments.
  • After two years of follow-up, depressive symptoms had partially remitted in 30{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4} of those receiving the psychoanalytic therapy; in the control condition this figure was again only 4{7e66f01e68c52d858b59d425bd8f3886b02d30322136bee7d8e459b39be00af4}.
  • Those receiving the psychoanalytic psychotherapy also saw significantly more benefits to their quality of life, general wellbeing and social and personal functioning.

After setting out to show that “interventions for treatment-resistant depression may need to be longer and more complex than first-line treatments of depression and that follow-ups should be longer, the study found that evaluations of depression made by both those seeking treatment and those observing the trials “showed steeper declines in the LTPP group, alongside greater improvements on measures of social adjustment”.


Robert Street Clinic’s range of psychotherapists, counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists are well versed in the latest research and trial results when it comes to the treatment of depression and a range of mental health issues. If you have struggled to find an effective treatment for your depression, contact us to work through your options. For more information on whether they can help you, call us on 09 973 5950, email us at or message us via the website.