Patients with major depression can learn to create a more positive outlook about the future instead of focusing on negative thoughts about their past experiences.

This was the finding of researchers at Cedars-Sinai say after developing a new treatment for patients.

Major Depressive Disorder patients undergo cognitive-behavior therapy that seeks to alter their irrational and negative thoughts about past experiences.

Researchers found out that patients who were treated with the newly-developed Future-Directed Therapy demonstrated significant improvement in depression and anxiety, as well as improvement in overall reported quality of life.

Results were published recently in the peer-reviewed journal CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics.

Recent imaging studies show that depressed patients have reduced functioning in the regions of the brain responsible for optimism.” – Jennice Vilhauer, PhD study author and clinical director

1 out of 10 American adults meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Future-Directed Therapy is designed to reduce depression by teaching people the skills they need to think more positively about the future and take the action required to create positive future experiences. This is the first study that demonstrates this intervention intended to increase positive expectations about the future can reduce symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder.” – Anand Pandya MD interim chair Cedars-Sinai

In the study conducted at Cedars-Sinai, 16 adult patients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder attended future-directed group therapy sessions led by a licensed psychologist twice a week for 10 weeks.

Each week, patients read a chapter from a Future-Directed Therapy manual and completed worksheets aimed at improving certain skills, such as goal-setting.

Another group of 17 patients diagnosed with depression underwent standard cognitive group therapy.

The results include:

Patients in the Future-Directed Therapy group experienced on average a 5.4 point reduction in their depressive symptoms on the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptoms scale, compared to a two point reduction in the cognitive therapy group.

Patients in the Future-Directed Therapy group on average reported a 5.4 point reduction in anxiety symptoms on the Beck Anxiety Inventory, compared to a reduction of 1.7 points in the cognitive therapy group.

Patients in the Future-Directed Therapy group reported on average an 8.4 point improvement in their self-reported quality of life on the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction scale, compared to a 1.2 point improvement in the cognitive therapy group.