Depressed patients find help on the internet
December 2005
Webtrack in Mental Health

Andersson G, Bergström J, Holländare F, et al. Internet-based self-help for depression: randomised controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatry 2005;187:456-461.

Psychotherapy is an effective treatment option for patients suffering from mild to moderate depression. The waiting lists of skilled therapists, however, are long. Consequently many patients have to wait for a considerable time before they receive psychotherapy. In the meantime self-help programs on the internet can offer help to those patients.

In this article the experiences of depressed patients with an internet-based self-help treatment were studied.

The internet program was a cognitive-behavioural self-help treatment. It consisted of text and exercises, divided into 5 modules. At the end of each module the patients completed a quiz which was sent to a therapist involved with the program. This way the patients were provided with quick and efficient feedback. Some depressive symptoms of the patients improved as did symptoms of anxiety. The patients also reported a better quality of life.

The internet-based self-help program proved its effectiveness. A further development of easy to handle internet-tools could reach even more depressed patients and provide them with help during the waiting period.