The Best Treatment For Depression And Anxiety

Typical cognitive techniques include questioning negative thoughts and running thought experiments.

Typical cognitive techniques include questioning negative thoughts and running thought experiments.

People who receive cognitive-behavioural therapy online feel better than those who receive it face-to-face, research finds.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is often seen as the gold standard for treating depression.

Typical cognitive techniques include questioning negative thoughts and running thought experiments.

Cognitive techniques can help to change negative thought patterns and enable people with depression to see the world more realistically.

Along with these, behavioural techniques include things like making a plan of action to do things that you enjoy.

Previous studies have found that online CBT can also be effective for anxiety.

The new review of research found that people who receive CBT online through video-conferencing, emailing and texting experience a greater reduction in symptoms than those receiving it face-to-face.

Dr Zena Samaan, study co-author, said:

“Although this study started before the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is timely and assuring that treatment delivered electronically works as well if not better than face to face and there is no compromise on the quality of care that patients are receiving during this stressful time.”

The conclusions come from a review of 17 separate randomised controlled trials.

Each one compared the effectiveness of CBT delivered online with that delivered face-to-face.

The studies, conducted across 15 years and in 6 different countries, found that online CBT was better than its traditional counterpart.

People experienced a greater reduction in depression symptoms online and patients were just as satisfied with being treated this way.

Dr Samaan said:

“The common understanding was that face to face psychotherapy has the advantage of the connection with the therapist and this connection is in part what makes the difference in treatment.

However, it is not surprising that electronic interventions are helpful in that they offer flexibility, privacy and no travel time, time off work, transport or parking costs.

It makes sense that people access care, especially mental health care, when they need it from their own comfort space.”

Dr Samaan continued:

“Electronic options should be considered to be implemented for delivering therapy to patients.

This can potentially vastly improve access for patients, especially those in rural or under-served areas, and during pandemics.”

Other effective talking therapies for depression include Behavioural Activation Therapy and Metacognitive Therapy.

The study was published in the journal EClinicalMedicine (Luo et al., 2020).

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.