This month, two studies revealed that those suffering from depression and anxiety may benefit from online therapy.
Doctors from the University of Pittsburgh said that "providing an online computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) program both alone and in combination with Internet Support Groups (ISG) is a more effective treatment for anxiety and depression than doctors’ usual primary care."
More than 704 depressed and anxious patients were enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh trial between 18 and 75 years of age. They were referred for the trial by their primary care physicians.
The patients were randomized into one of three groups and reevaluated at six months, and again six months after that. These were the three groups:
1) Care manager-guided access to the eight-session Beating the Blues CCBT program
2) Care manager-guided access to both the CCBT program and a password-protected ISG that patients could access 24/7 via smartphone or desktop computer
3) Usual behavioral health care from their primary care physician
Patients randomized to CCBT programs reported significant improvements in their mood and anxiety symptoms. Also, patients who completed more CCBT sessions experienced greater improvement in mood and anxiety symptoms.
The study said, "[A]lthough patients randomized to both CCBT and ISG had similar overall improvements in mood and anxiety symptoms compared to patients randomized to only CCBT, secondary analysis revealed those who engaged more with the ISG tended to experience greater improvements in symptoms."
The preliminary findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) in Hollywood, Florida, according to the UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.
Another study was conducted by researchers from Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Lüneburg, Germany, and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.