Online Chatting As A Cure For Depression?
Most people think of chatting on the internet as a pleasant diversion and probably a waste of time. But some researchers have been exploring the idea that there may be therapeutic benefits in talking about your feelings and stressors with an online mental health professional.
Classic treatments for depression focus on psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. In psychotherapy, trained professionals use various strategies to help those with depression break out of their sadness and lethargy so they can improve their quality of life. One popular type of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on how the way we think influences the way we feel as well as our behavior.
In CBT, patients learn that it is our thoughts that generate our feelings and actions rather than outside influences such as other people or our circumstances. The reason this approach is so effective is that it empowers the patient to change his situation by changing his thoughts, instead of feeling ineffectual against life's onslaught. As a result, even if things change very little, or not at all, the patient feels better for thinking more positive thoughts.
CBT is considered one of the quickest forms of therapy in terms of achieving relief from psychological issues such as depression. Still, the modern world is so fast-paced that folks are pressed to find a way to fit in an appointment with a therapist. Getting treatment through the internet makes CBT more accessible to those who have a problem with time constraints.
A U.K. study published in Lancet had 300 participants experiencing a first bout of depression receive 10 online 55-minute CBT sessions over a period of four months, or get the usual therapy given by physicians while patients remained on an eight-month waiting list for the online sessions. The usual therapies consisted of antidepressant medication for some, while others received psychotherapy or other forms of support.
Approximately half of the patient participants of either group were already in treatment with antidepressant medication while two-thirds of the participants had been diagnosed as having severe depression when evaluated according to questionnaires given them at the start of the trial. More than half of the participants had co-existent, significant anxiety disorders.
Four months into the study, 24% of those receiving more typical therapies had been cured of depression, while 38% of those receiving online CBT had resolved their depression. In the latter group, the results were long-lasting and sustained as long as eight months later. This is considered a significant and impressive result when compared to other cure rates for depression.