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How Lasting Are the Positive Effects of Internet Therapy for Major Depression?

06 Nov

Researchers from the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Learning at the Swedish Institute for Disability Research at Linköping University in Sweden, performed a follow-up study to evaluate the outcome of an 8-week, internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) program for major depression, completed 3.5 years previous. Prior to this study, the longest length of post-treatment time for follow-up was 1.5 years.

A total of 88 people with major depression were randomized to either guided self-help or e-mail therapy in the original trial. One-third was initially on a waiting-list.
Treatment was provided for eight weeks and in this report long-term follow-up data were collected. Also included were data from post-treatment and six-month follow-up.

A total of 58% (51 out of 88) completed the 3.5-year follow-up. Analyses were performed using a random effects repeated measures piecewise growth model to estimate trajectory shape over time and account for missing data.

Results showed continued lowered scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). No differences were found between the treatment conditions. A large proportion of participants (55%) had sought and received additional treatments in the follow-up period. A majority (56.9%) of participants had a BDI score lower than 10 at the 3.5-year follow-up.

The investigators conclude that people with mild to moderate major depression may indeed benefit from ICBT 3.5-years after the completion of treatment.

Citation: Andersson G1, Hesser H, Hummerdal D, Bergman-Nordgren L, Carlbring P. A 3.5-year follow-up of Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy for major depression. Journal of Mental Health. 2013 Apr;22 (2): pages 155-64. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.