Working through a self-help program online can prevent or delay major depression disorder in people who are vulnerable, a study finds. Similar programs have been used to treat depression, but this may be the first one tested to prevent it, the researchers say.
Online programs for mental health problems can be as effective as face-to-face treatment and offer some advantages: Low cost, available at any time and customizable. But they're not panaceas.
In this experiment, half of the participants were asked to do six half-hour-long exercises that were based on cognitive behavioral therapy and problem-solving therapy, which are techniques commonly used for in-person therapy.
In the cognitive behavioral therapy, participants were asked to identify positive activities they used to engage in and then are asked to actively plan those activities again. At the next session, participants reflect on their experiences.
For the problem-solving therapy, people were asked to create a list of the things that matter most to them in their lives and brainstorm on how to incorporate those things into daily life. They next were asked to categorize problems and worries into "manageable" and "unmanageable;" the main focus in problem-solving therapy is to tackle those problems that are considered manageable.