Online training may help treat depression: Study

Online training may help treat depression: Study

Depression can be deceptive and may lead even the happiest of people to believe that there is nothing worthwhile to live for. No matter how cheerful the surroundings may be, a person suffering from depression will not be able to draw pleasure or happiness from them. In spite of the probability of it being a lifelong condition, how a patient perceives depression may decide the efficacy of the treatment.

A study by the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2016, explored the scope of web-based health intervention measures to treat depression.

6-week online training helped reduce depression

To estimate the effectiveness of treating depression with the help of online training,  the researchers examined 406 individuals who had a high probability of developing depression, but were not diagnosed with the disease at the time of the study. Half of the participants were given an online training course known as GET.ON, comprising problem solving techniques and behavioral activation, while the other half was given only written instructions pertaining to prevention of the disease.

The training module included videos, texts and tasks that were spread across 30-90 minutes every week. The participants were given constant support from their personal trainers during the six-week online training course.

After a year, the researchers then followed up the participants using a diagnostic telephonic interview. The results revealed that 41 percent of the control group who did not go through the online training developed depression as compared to only 27 percent of those who had completed the GET.ON course. It was observed that for every six persons participating in GET.ON, one person could be prevented from developing depression, which means that a 39 percent reduction in depression risk can be achieved through the training.

The study gives hope to millions of people who are at an increased risk of developing depression and are looking for preventive measures. “GET.ON offers people with initial symptoms a highly effective but also flexible and low-cost way of successfully preventing the development of a depressive disorder that would require treatment,” said Dr. David Ebert from the Chair of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at FAU, and the lead author of the study.

Timely intervention is the need of the hour

As per the Global Burden of Disease Study by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is likely to become the prime reason of premature death and disease-related disability in the future, and can be a bigger concern than coronary heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, it is important to devise effective programs to prevent the onset of the disease at an early stage as the current treatment strategies are not effective enough to lower the suffering. All it takes is timely intervention and understanding the initial signs of this mental illness so that adequate steps can be taken at the right time.

Citing a study by the Robert Koch Institute, a report on sciencedaily.com said that around 15 percent of women and 8 percent of men will suffer from depression over the course of their lives. Chronic depression can be a lifelong condition, wherein therapists should aim to reduce frequent episodes of the mental condition. In doing so, caregivers need to conduct a more holistic review of a patient’s psychiatric history and explore other potential risk factors that could result in a sudden and unexpected episode.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any kind of mental illness, you may get in touch with the Sovereign Mental Health Services to know about various mental health centers. Chat online with one of our experts or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information about mental health facilities.

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