Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Behavioural Activation Therapy (BA) were used to treat individuals with comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). Fifty-two individuals (48 women, 4 men) were randomized to CPT alone (n = 18), CPT then BA for MDD (n = 17), or BA then CPT (n = 17). Presenting trauma was primarily interpersonal (87 %). Participants were assessed at pre-, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up. PTSD and MDD symptoms were the main outcome of interest; trauma cognitions, rumination, and emotional numbing were secondary outcomes. All groups showed sizeable reductions in PTSD and depression (effect sizes at follow-up ranging between 1.02–2.54). A pattern of findings indicated CPT/BA showed better outcomes in terms of larger effect sizes and loss of diagnoses relative to CPT alone and BA/CPT. At follow-up greater numbers of the CPT/BA group were estimated to have achieved good end-state for remission of both PTSD and depression (49 %, CI95 [.26,.73]) relative to CPT alone (18 %, CI95 [.03,.38]) and BA/CPT (11 %, CI95 [.01,.29]). Although tempered by the modest sample size, the findings suggest that individuals with comorbid PTSD and MDD may benefit from having PTSD targeted first before remaining MDD symptoms are addressed.
- Cognitive processing therapy
- Interpersonal trauma
- Major depressive disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder