June 9, 2012

Therapy via Internet Connection

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Reviewed by: 
Robert Carlson, M.D By:

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Depressive disorder can be treated by the appropriate therapy channel

(dailyRx News) When meeting with a therapist in person isn’t an option, therapy can still be administered for major depression through web-based psychotherapy. Internet therapy is showing promising results.

A recent study provides evidence in support for using the Internet to deliver psychotherapy to people with major depressive disorder.

Basic self-help modules prove less effective than psychotherapy approaches.

"Try online therapy if you can’t get to your appointment."

Under the direction of lead investigator and professor of clinical psychology, Gerhard Andersson, PhD, at Linköping University in Sweden, a team of doctoral students set out to see how people with depression did with self-help tools online.

The author’s state: “Psychodynamic psychotherapy (PDT) is an effective treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), but not all clients with MDD can receive psychotherapy. Using the Internet to provide psychodynamic treatments is one way of improving access to psychological treatments for MDD”

92 patients with MDD participated in nine treatment modules with an online therapist. Patients meet online with to complete their therapy module once a week for 10 weeks. They were evaluated at 10 weeks and again at a 10 month review.

The group was split in half for test group and control group. The test group was given psychodynamic treatment for depression, while the control group was guided through self-help advice and methods over the Internet. The test group reported 52.2 percent to ‘much or very much improved’ after the 10 weeks of Internet therapy.

Only two participants from each of the groups were reported to be ‘minimally worse’ after treatment.

Preliminary research for this study revealed that: “Only about half of the 12-month cases in the USA were receiving treatment for MDD and only 18-25 percent were adequately treated.”

Not all people with MDD live close enough or have transportation to be able to get to appropriate treatment methods. The Internet provides a way to reach patients with proper treatment methods no matter where they live or what kind of mobility situation exists.

The authors conclude: “The findings from this study add to the empirical base of psychodynamic treatments for depression and indicate that it is indeed possible to conduct psychodynamic treatment as guided self-help via the Internet.”

This study was published in PLoS ONE, May 29, 2012. Funding for this study was provided by the Swedish Council for Working and Life Research, the Swedish Research Council and Linköping University; there were no conflicts of interest found.

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Reviewed by: 
Robert Carlson, M.D
Review Date: 
June 6, 2012

Last Updated:
October 18, 2012