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How Effective is Web Based Treatment for Depression?

May 13th, 2016

Millions of people suffer from depression, and one of the latest and most innovative tools to identify and treat this mental health disorder is web based treatment. Is this treatment model actually effective though? According to a new study by Lueneburg, Germany’s Leuphana University web based treatment can be effective when it provides guided intervention and self help. Claudia Buntrock, M.Sc. Was the lead researcher on the study, providing guidance to the research team during the study. 406 adults who all had sub threshold depression but who did not have major depressive disorder were divided into two groups. One group received a web based program that offered guided self-help intervention while the second group received a web based program that offered psychoeducation instead. Both groups still had access that was unrestricted to their usual care and primary care physician visits.

The study on web based treatment for depression found that the guided self help intervention was more effective when the program included therapy which involved problem solving and cognitive behavioral adjustment. The program with guided self help intervention also had the support of an online trainer as well. 82% of the study participants took part in a telephone follow up 12 months after having access to the web based treatment. Of the follow up respondents only 27% of the intervention group participants experienced major depression disorder while 41% of the control group respondents experienced MDD.

The study researchers noted that “Results of the study suggest that the intervention could effectively reduce the risk of MDD onset or at least delay onset. 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.”

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