Method: To identify evidence-based treatment elements, a comprehensive investigation of national and international guidelines was conducted. The extracted guidelines were then assessed with regard to aspects of methodological quality and evidence-based treatment elements. In a further step, specific and systematic literature searches for residual treatment elements were conducted. For the corresponding literature search, a hierarchical approach was chosen in which current guidelines were reviewed first and systematic reviews and meta-analyses second. Psychopharmacological treatments were excluded from the analysis because this is covered by specific guidelines.
Results: The treatment elements with an adequate level of evidence were identified as follows: psychotherapeutic interventions, marital/couples/family therapy and counseling, inclusion of family members, psycho-education, exercise, problem solving therapy, guided self-help and behavioral activation treatments. Further evidence-based methods include diagnostic treatment elements, participative decision-making, development of the therapeutic alliance, Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System for Psychotherapy, computerized cognitive behavior therapy, psychopharmacological therapy, combined psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, phototherapy, sleep deprivation, repetitive trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and acupuncture.
Conclusion: In summary, using a hierarchical approach, it was possible to assign different levels of evidence to the various treatment options for depression.