For Depression, Phone Therapy May Be an Answer

WEDNESDAY May 19, 2010 -- When you're depressed, do you need to meet a therapist in person? Maybe not, suggests a small new study, which finds that therapy by telephone is almost as effective as face-to-face.

Researchers at Brigham Young University had 30 people who were newly diagnosed with depression talk to a therapist by phone for 21 to 52 minutes. They did this instead of making eight visits to a clinic.

None of the participants got antidepressant medicine.

Six months later, 42 percent of the participants had recovered from depression. About 50 percent of patients recover from depression when face-to-face therapy is provided, the researchers said.

"Offering a phone or webcam option for psychotherapy does appear warranted from an efficacy point of view," said study co-author Diane Spangler, a psychology professor, in a statement. "It's more user-friendly -- no commutes, more flexibility of place and time and has no side effects."

But not everyone is willing to try phone therapy. A third of eligible participants declined it.

The study is published in the June issue of Behavior Therapy.

More information

For more about depression, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Posted: May 2010


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