Looking Forward Can Help People with Depression

A type of therapy that teaches people how to look forward to a positive future may be helpful in treating major depression. In one study, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles explored the possible benefits of "future-directed therapy," or FDT.

According to the researchers, FDT encourages people to not dwell on the past or their current limitations, but to develop the skills that help them maintain positive expectations about the future. Skills include

  • goal-setting,
  • problem-solving,
  • taking action and
  • dealing in a constructive manner with disappointment.

In the study, 16 people with major depressive disorder chose to take 20 sessions of FDT over 10 weeks, and another 17 participated in traditional cognitive-based therapy. The people participating in FDT had significant improvements in their depression, anxiety and quality of life. They also reported that they were very satisfied with the therapy. This group had greater improvement in their depressive symptoms than the other group as measured by a standard depression questionnaire.

This was merely a pilot study, but it found evidence that this type of therapy warrants further research, including a trial in which people are randomly assigned to FDT or another type of treatment.

Source: CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, Published Online; March 16, 2011

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Published: 21 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013