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
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