Online therapy helps fight depression

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Online therapy helps fight depression

Treatment on your home computer is even more effective than the visit to the therapist

Does psychotherapy over the Internet? Researchers have now investigated whether online psychotherapy and conventional surgery therapy for depression are equally effective - the results surprised even the researchers.

Online therapy helps fight depression

Online Therapy


In the past decade, psychologists have collected evidence that online help can be beneficial in depression. Therefore, a research team from the University of Zurich has now examined more closely whether treatment via the internet can keep up with a classic therapy. They tested this in a study with 62 participants, most of whom suffered from moderate depression. By chance the patient a therapy variant were assigned.

Both the online therapy as well as the traditional visit to the psychotherapist was the two-month treatment of eight meetings with various proven techniques from the behavioral therapy. Patients of online therapy received from their online therapist asked the introductions and various tasks - they had for example to question one's own negative self-image. Overall, however, all patients received the same tasks in the same order - regardless of the treatment modality.

Online treatment even better than imagined

The results of the online therapy have exceeded the expectations of psychologists: "In both groups, depression scores decreased significantly", Andreas Maercker summarizes the study results. To the end of treatment of patients of online therapy have been diagnosed no more depression in 53 percent - in the consulting room treatment, it was 50 percent. And this positive effect also held even longer to: Three months after completion of therapy, the mental condition had stabilized even at 57 percent of treated children online. In the conventionally treated children there were, however, some relapses: Only 42 percent of participants were then still free of depression.

"In the medium term, the online psychotherapy even better balance. Our study provides evidence that psychotherapy offers on the Internet an effective complement of treatment provision," says Maercker. An online psychotherapy is therefore at least as effective as a therapy in the consulting room. Researchers at the University of Zurich thus provide for the first time a scientific proof of the equivalence of a psychotherapy via Internet.

Satisfied patients in both groups

In addition, the patient's online variant not found them per se as a disadvantage: Both groups of patients' satisfaction with the therapy and the therapist was about the same. 96 percent of patients of online therapy and 91 percent of the participants to conventional therapy also felt a "personal" contact with their therapist. With online therapy, patients use the therapy contacts and subsequent homework usually very intensively in order to personally come on. They said, for example, to have read the correspondence with her therapist from time to time.

Here could be one of the benefits of therapy via the Internet are, because writing Sticky can be read again and again. And even if the patient is making notes in a personal conversation, they are probably not as detailed as an online correspondence. Since the study with 62 participants but is very small, the results need to be confirmed on a larger number of people, the researchers said. (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013; doi: 10.1016 / j.jad.2013.06.032 )

(University of Zurich, 31.07.2013 - SEN)


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