Aiding Depression with Low-Intensity Methods

low-intensity methodsSelf-help books and internet-based help can be beneficial for people who suffer from depression—even those who are severely depressed.[1]

“Depression is a major cause of disability, ” said Professor Peter Bower of Manchester University, UK. “Effective management is a key challenge for healthcare systems.”1

These low-intensity interventions are often used as a first-line treatment, as they are often based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).1 They were defined in the study as interventions that were designed to help patient manage their depressive symptoms with limited guidance and support from a health profession.1 This definition did not include self-help groups.1

Researchers evaluated a patient’s depression severity at the beginning of treatment.1 They used figures that were taken from 16 studies that were completed since 2000, giving them a total of 2,470 non-hospitalized adult patients who suffered from moderate to severe depression.1

“Patients with more severe depression at baseline show at least as much clinical benefit from low-intensity interventions as less severely depressed patients and could usefully be offered these interventions as part of their care plan,” the researchers reported.1

The researchers also found that there was a significant link between the severity of the depression and treatment success, as patients who were more depressed at baseline demonstrated more treatment success.1 However, the difference was quite small and may not be clinically significant.1

Still, researchers urge physicians to encourage patients with depression to use these low-intensity methods as a treatment option, included in their treatment plan.1 Patients should be monitored consistently after low-intensity treatment to assess progress and assure they are receiving the care they require.1

“Clearly, some patients will not find such interventions useful, and it would seem sensible to continue to refer severe cases to more intense psychological intervention or pharmacological management,” the researchers write. “Future research should look at the cost-effectiveness of low-intensity treatments versus longer and more expensive psychological therapies and whether previous negative experiences with low-intensity interventions could act as a barrier to further treatment.”1

CBT is currently the main psychological treatment approach that has been computerized, and patients usually find it acceptable with some clinical recovery.1 Also, guided self-help in the form of book manuals has also been well accepted; however, literacy and motivation are key to its success.1

[1] Collingwood, J. (2014). Low Intensity Methods Aid Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/31/low-intensity-methods-aid-depression/67880.html

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