Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Anxiety & Depression: Self-Help Internet Interventions Work!

A little while ago I posted a list of free interactive self-help web sites, all research based, which have been shown to effective in the treatment of anxiety & depression. A recent study adds to the body of evidence which supports web based intervention as a viable treatment option or adjunct.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) via the internet is just as effective in treating panic disorder (recurring panic attacks) as traditional group-based CBT. It is also efficacious in the treatment of mild and moderate depression. This according to a new doctoral thesis soon to be presented at Karolinska Institutet.

Read the original research thesis here (PDF)

“Internet-based CBT is also more cost-effective than group therapy,” says Jan Bergström, psychologist and doctoral student at the Center for Psychiatry Research. “The results therefore support the introduction of Internet treatment into regular psychiatry, which is also what the National Board of Health and Welfare recommends in its new guidelines for the treatment of depression and anxiety.”

It is estimated that depression affects some 15 per cent and panic disorder 4 per cent of all people during their lifetime. Depression can include a number of symptoms, such as low mood, lack of joy, guilt, lethargy, concentration difficulties, insomnia and a low zest for life. Panic disorder involves debilitating panic attacks that deter a person from entering places or situations previously associated with panic. Common symptoms include palpitations, shaking, nausea and a sense that something dangerous is about to happen (e.g. a heart attack or that one is going mad).

Click image to read reviews

It is known from previous studies that CBT is an effective treatment for both panic disorder and depression. However, there is a lack of psychologists and psychotherapists that use CBT methods, and access to them varies greatly in Sweden as well as in many other countries. Internet-based CBT has therefore been developed, in which the patient undergoes an Internet-based self-help programme and has contact with a therapist by email.

The present doctoral thesis includes a randomised clinical trial of 104 patients with panic disorder and compares the effectiveness of Internet-based CBT and group CBT within a regular healthcare service. The study shows that both treatments worked very well and that there was no significant difference between them, either immediately after treatment or at a six-month follow-up. Analyses of the results for the treatment of depression show that Internet-based CBT is most effective if it is administered as early as possible. Patients with a higher severity of depression and/or a history of more frequent depressive episodes benefited less well from the Internet treatment.

Jan Bergström works as a clinical psychologist at the Anxiety Disorders Unit of the Psychiatry Northwest division of the Stockholm County Council. This research was also financed by the Stockholm County Council.

“Thanks to our research, Internet treatment is now implemented within regular healthcare in Stockholm, at the unit of Psychiatry Southwest, which probably makes the Stockholm County Council the first in the world to offer such treatment in its regular psychiatric services,” says Jan Bergström.

Read the original research thesis here (PDF)

Credit: Adapted from materials provided by Karolinska Institutet.


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April 18, 2010 - Posted by | anxiety, Books, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, depression, diagnosis, Education, Internet, research, stress, Technology, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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  5. Hello Peter
    Have you heard anything about the Wellbeing Program. Its a new Internet-based program (Australian run)by Dr Nickolai Titov and Professor Gavin Andrews through St Vincents hospital and UNSW (used to be ClimateClinic).
    I have been selected to trial it in June (and am a teensy bit anxious about getting involved) and I was wandering if you have had any experience with them and if you recommend the program? I think it is similar to what you have written about in this article.

    Comment by PhyNics | May 6, 2010 | Reply

  6. Hey,

    Your article is very helpful, and full of great information. It is greatly appreciated!
    Thanks very much!

    – Stewart

    P.S. Here also is additional information on how to stop Panic Attacks yourself – by using self-help remedies. Check this out: Self Help for Anxiety

    Comment by Stewart Anderson | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  7. Thanks for the interesting research again!
    Always a pleasure reading your insights!

    Comment by Perry Ritthaler | February 15, 2011 | Reply

  8. Dear Peter
    I have plan to adapt one of these internet based self help program (based of CBT) for another language, and culture . which one do you suggest? can you email me so I would be able to have more questions in details ?
    Thanks a million

    Comment by razepenhan | May 22, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi razepenham,
      I would recommend the Crufad clinic programmes as they have a very solid research base supporting them.

      Comment by peterhbrown | June 11, 2012 | Reply

  9. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find many of your
    post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write
    content for you personally? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome website!

    Comment by | May 1, 2013 | Reply

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