Personalized Digital Therapy for Depression

November 28, 2023

Personalized Digital Therapy for Depression

Since the advent of COVID-19, many app services have been launched for managing depression. Being digital avenues, these options are typically more affordable and allow for anytime-anywhere usage, as well as more consistent management of mental health. As a result, these digital solutions are slowly being accepted within the medical field due to these beneficial aspects. So, among the many digital cognitive therapies for depression, what kind of approach is suitable for me?

In 2021, a study assessing "Internet-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Depression" was published in JAMA Psychiatry, a renowned academic journal worldwide. The study conducted an expansive analysis of data from 39 randomized control trial (RCT) research projects, involving 9,751 participants. Four methods of treatment were compared:

  • Programs conducted with the help of professionals
  • Self-administered programs without professional assistance
  • Basic treatments (for example, essential counseling, education, etc.)
  • Waiting (no intervention)

The results were as follows:

Result 1: Digital Cognitive Therapy for Depression is Effective

Firstly, both the programs conducted with professional help and those self-administered showed enhanced results compared to basic treatments or waiting. Both types were deemed effective from a short-term as well as long-term perspective.

Result 2: Receiving Professional Help Was More Effective After Treatment Ended

Based on the post-treatment evaluation, results were better for those who received help from professionals compared to those who self-administered the programs. However, there was no difference between the two when evaluated after 6 or 12 months. Presumably, multiple factors, such as maintenance of treatment effect or recurrence, played a role.

Result 3: The Degree of Depression at the Start is Important

The most critical factor in deciding whether to opt for professional assistance or a self-administered program was the level of depression when starting the program. For individuals with mild depression (a PHQ-9 score of 5-9 points), the difference in effectiveness between a program with a professional and a self-administered program was not significant. However, for slightly higher levels of depression (a PHQ-9 score exceeding 10 points), programs with professionals consistently displayed better therapeutic effectiveness.

The study concludes by stressing that "it is necessary to select a personalized method according to the individual's situation". This conclusion aligns with the results observed from the digital cognitive therapy program 'Distancing', which also incorporates professional help.

Depression Score Reduced by 46%: Shifted From Needing Treatment to Not Requiring Treatment

Once depression reaches a certain level, it becomes evident that professional assistance is necessary. So, don't hesitate. Options have expanded with the progression of the times.Strategies including face-to-face therapy as well as digital therapy are all beneficial. There are now many ways to seek help appropriate to one's circumstances, without being restricted by time and place. If you're struggling, please find the method that suits you best and seek the help you need.

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