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Treating Depression Over The Telephone

July 2010 - Research from Brigham Young University published in Behavior Therapy found that providing treatment for clinical depression over the telephone can be almost as effective as face-to-face consultations.

The study recruited 30 individuals newly diagnosed with major depression. Participants covered issues normally addressed during eight clinic appointments in a series of phone calls with the psychotherapist lasting between 21 and 52 minutes. Patients did not receive antidepressant medication. At six month follow-up, 42 per cent had recovered. Similar therapy conducted in person is reported to have a 50 per cent recovery rate.

Researchers report that one-third of eligible participants declined the option, preferring direct contact with the psychotherapist. While acknowledging the small sample size, they cite a previous antidepressant drug trial that included a telephone counselling component that produced similar results.

Co-author Diane Spangler, a professor of psychology, said:

"Offering a phone or webcam option for psychotherapy does appear warranted from an efficacy point of view. Itís more user- friendly - no commutes, more flexibility of place and time - and has no side effects."

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