Lancaster University

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BEAT-ing depression in adults with a learning disability

03/22/2013 00:00:00
​Lancaster University is among three universities to have won over £1.2m from the National Institute for Health Research to test the effectiveness of a new treatment for depression for people with a learning disability.

Even though depression is the most common type of mental health problem experienced by adults there is a lack of evidence about psychological treatments for people with learning disability.

Professor Chris Hatton from the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University is working on the project which is led by the University of Glasgow with Bangor University.

He will be offering academic support to Cumbria which is one of three sites in the UK for patient trials of a recently adapted version of a psychological approach called Behavioural Activation or BEAT-IT.

Professor Hatton said: “The aim of Behavioural Activation is to get people with depression involved in positive activities and to engage in everyday tasks they may have been avoiding. Therapists will work alongside the depressed individual and a key support person in their lives. The aim is to ensure that continuing support will be available to help the individual sustain real life change.”

The researchers intend to find out if the participants getting BEAT-IT are more likely to: show a reduction in symptoms of depression, increase their activity and have an improved quality of life.

The team is made up of researchers with expertise in working with people with learning disability, experts on clinical therapeutic interventions, and experts in using statistics and health economics in research. In each of the three centres – Glasgow, North Wales and Cumbria - there are strong links with the NHS and specialist learning disability services.

Professor Andrew Jahoda from the University of Glasgow who is the leader of the research project said: “Many of these individuals are socially marginalised and don’t have the same chances to take part in purposeful activity as others in society.   It’s also one of the reasons that depression can sometimes be overlooked in this population, because it can be harder to notice when people become withdrawn. “