New Research: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Delivered Online Effective for Treating Depression

SAN DIEGO, May 20, 2017 – Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) delivered online is effective for treating depression in adults concludes a new meta-analysis presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in San Diego.

CBT, a type of talk therapy, has been shown to be effective in treating depression in adults with mild to moderate depression. However, a number of barriers, including cost, availability and stigma prevent many from accessing these services. Delivering CBT over the Internet (iCBT) may help address some of the barriers.

Researchers led by Charles Koransky, M.D., a psychiatric resident at the University of Maryland Medical Center, sought to assess whether iCBT for adults with depressive symptoms leads to a reduction in these symptoms. They identified and reviewed 14 randomized controlled studies published between 2005 and 2015 in which iCBT was used with adults with depression.

They found the Internet-delivered CBT was effective in reducing depressive symptoms. iCBT also maintained the positive effects on symptoms for six months after the therapy. The study found no statistically significant difference in depressive symptoms between studies where clinicians participated in the iCBT program and those without clinician assistance in the iCBT treatment.

The researchers conclude that online CBT is effective in reducing depressive symptoms and may be a good treatment modality for individuals unable to access traditional face-to-face therapy.

Charles Koransky, M.D., completed his B.A. in Psychology and Cognitive Science and his medical degree at the University of Virginia. He is currently a 4th year resident at the University of Maryland/ Sheppard Pratt Psychiatry Program. Leah Fegan, M.D., M.P.H., completed her B.S. in Nursing at Brigham Young University. She completed her Master’s in Public Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her medical degree at Drexel University College of Medicine. Dina Sztein, M.D., M.P.H., completed her B.A. in Religion at Haverford College, her M.D. and M.P.H. at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and her adult psychiatry residency at the University of Maryland. Seth Himelhoch, M.D., M.P.H. is Professor and Director of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association is the oldest medical association in the country founded in 1844. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.

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