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How Does Online Therapy Help Depression?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 4 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Depression Therapy Online Counselling

It seems that virtually everyone is online these days, whether that is children, teenagers or adults.

The Internet has become a constant medium in developed nations for everything from shopping to staying in touch with friends and family.

But, can the online world be used to help depression? According to a recent study, not only can online therapy help depression but also it could reduce the National Health Service (NHS) waiting times by a quarter.

Given the current, onerous waiting times, this is a significant result.

Studying Online Therapy and Depression

One interesting aspect of the London study was that more than three out of five individuals are able to halt treatment after eight sessions. In this way, patients can move forward independently and the need for depression drugs is reduced.

The counselling style that was investigated is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a popular therapy that works to improve a patient's outlook on life through the use of positive thinking to replace negative and defeatist thoughts. In turn, a patient's behaviours are more likely to be positive ones.

Online Therapy vs Conventional Therapy

In the more traditional forms of therapy, a patient would be facing a counsellor or psychologist for each session. For some patients, this is indeed a helpful way to experience counselling but for others, their fear and nervousness can make in-person counselling difficult and less successful.

Also, online styles of counselling let patients exert greater control over their health. They can manage treatment from home. However, it should still be noted that this kind of therapy is generally recommended for people who suffer from milder forms of depression as opposed to severe clinical depression.

Using Online Therapy

In the NHS, doctors can presently prescribe online therapy to depressed patients. Given that other research has already supported its use, it is considered effective and important for its use in treating depression. The hope is that it can also reduce health care costs and improve patient access to treatment, particularly those patients who are dealing with waiting lists or even those who are hesitant to seek treatment.

With millions of people in Britain estimated to suffer from depression and anxiety, there are worries about how all of these people can access important services. Waiting times can wreck havoc on patients but online therapy is thought to play a vital role in reducing these waiting times and getting help to patients who need it.

Although patients with severe depression will probably still need drug therapy and in-person counselling sessions, others with milder forms can effectively treat their depression and access important counselling services.

Using Online Therapy for Depression Relief

Given that the study showed that online therapy could have an enormous impact on patients, it is hoped that more research will investigate what kinds of therapy work best in the online medium. In fact, it is likely that this study will encourage even more counsellors and therapists to offer an online service to patients. For those who are depressed, it will be one more treatment that may offer relief from the distressing symptoms of depression.

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