Do depression treatments reduce suicidal ideation? The effects of CBT, IPT, pharmacotherapy, and placebo on suicidality

E. Weitz, S.D. Hollon, A. Kerkhof, P. Cuijpers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Many well-researched treatments for depression exist. However, there is not yet enough evidence on whether these therapies, designed for the treatment of depression, are also effective for reducing suicidal ideation. This research provides valuable information for researchers, clinicians, and suicide prevention policy makers. Methods Analysis was conducted on the Treatment for Depression Research Collaborative (TDCRP) sample, which included CBT, IPT, medication, and placebo treatment groups. Participants were included in the analysis if they reported suicidal ideation on the HRSD or BDI (score of 1). Results Multivariate linear regression indicated that both IPT (b=.41, p<.05) and medication (b =.47, p<.05) yielded a significant reduction in suicide symptoms compared to placebo on the HRSD. Multivariate linear regression indicated that after adjustment for change in depression these treatment effects were no longer significant. Moderate Cohen's d effect sizes from baseline to post-test differences in suicide score by treatment group are reported. Limitations These analyses were completed on a single suicide item from each of the measures. Moreover, the TDCRP excluded participants with moderate to severe suicidal ideation. Conclusions This study demonstrates the specific effectiveness of IPT and medications in reducing suicidal ideation (relative to placebo), albeit largely as a consequence of their more general effects on depression. This adds to the growing body of evidence that depression treatments, specifically IPT and medication, can also reduce suicidal ideation and serves to further our understanding of the complex relationship between depression and suicide. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-103
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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