Depression

28 February 2013

Self-help books help depressed people

These low-intensity interventions deemed good first steps in treatment.

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Self-help books and websites can benefit people with severe depression and should be included as part of the first line of treatment, a new study suggests.

For the report, the researchers reviewed several studies that included a total of nearly 2 500 adult patients with different degrees of depression who received treatment outside of a hospital.

Patients with more severe depression derived at least as much benefit from low-intensity interventions -  such as self-help books and interactive websites - as those with less severe depression, according to the report published.

These types of low-intensity interventions are meant to help patients manage their depressive symptoms, often with limited support from a health professional, the researchers explained in a journal news release.

The findings indicate that low-intensity interventions should be included as part of the first step of depression treatment and that patients should be encouraged to use them, concluded Peter Bower, of the University of Manchester in England, and colleagues.

The authors also suggested that future research should examine whether low-intensity treatments are cost-effective compared to longer and more expensive psychological therapies, and determine how low-intensity intervention in the first stage of treatment might affect future treatment.

More information

The US National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.

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Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

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