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Self-Help Online Can Help Prevent Depression

Self-Help Online Can Help Prevent Depression

A new study has found that a web-based, guided self-help intervention reduced the incidence of major depressive disorder.

For the study, a research team led by Claudia Buntrock, M.Sc., of Leuphana University in Lueneburg, Germany, randomly assigned 406 adults with sub-threshold depression — some symptoms of depression but not major depressive disorder (MDD) — to either a web-based guided self-help intervention or a web-based psychoeducation program.

The guided self-help intervention included cognitive behavioral and problem-solving therapy supported by an online trainer, the researchers explained.

All of the study’s participants also had unrestricted access to usual care, such as visits to a primary care clinician, the researchers added.

The average age of the participants was 45, while a vast majority — 74 percent — were women.

According to the researchers, 335 of the participants, or 82 percent, completed a telephone follow-up at 12 months.

At that time, the researchers discovered that 55 participants (27 percent) in the intervention group experienced MDD, compared with 84 participants (41 percent) in the control group.

“Results of the study suggest that the intervention could effectively reduce the risk of MDD onset or at least delay onset,” the researchers noted in the study, which was published in JAMA. “Further research is needed to understand whether the effects are generalizable to both first onset of depression and depression recurrence, as well as efficacy without the use of an online trainer.”

Source: The JAMA Network Journals
Young woman sitting next to computer photo by shutterstock.

Self-Help Online Can Help Prevent Depression

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Self-Help Online Can Help Prevent Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 4 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.