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Behavioural activation can help prevent older people with mild depression from developing a more severe clinical form, Leeds research finds. A treatment was delivered over 10 weeks through face-to-face and telephone contact, and encouraged patients to re-engage with social activities that bring pleasure and improve mood. “During treatment, people are encouraged to think about alternative ways to remain mentally and physically active,” explains trial coordinator Dr Gemma Traviss-Turner.

A study compared two groups of patients aged 65 and older who had mild depression. Half the participants were given access to behavioural activation, whilst the other half visited their GP. Four months later, behavioural activation had reduced more serious symptoms of depression. Plans are now under way to train NHS therapists in this low-cost intervention.