Forgot Password

Sign In


  • Company Information

  • Billing Address

  • Are you primarily interested in advertising *

  • Do you want to recieve the HealthTimes Newsletter?

  • Online psychological therapy is highly effective in treating depression

    Author: AAP

The Australian Psychological Society is in support of digital therapy programs to treat people with depression but says they must be psychologist assisted.

Online psychological therapy is highly effective and should be considered a viable alternative to treating people with depression, say the authors of a new study.

Subscribe for FREE to the HealthTimes magazine

Analysis of nearly a dozen international studies published in journal JAMA Psychiatry found the use of self-guided internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) was associated with "significantly" lower depressive symptoms.

Researchers randomly selected clinical trials conducted in six countries, including Australia, in which digital therapy was compared with the usual interventions individuals with depression receive.

The data involved more than 3800 participants of an average age of 42. More than half (66 per cent) were females.


Cabrini Health
ACAS Assessor
St Vincent's Hospital

"We found that self-guided iCBT had lower depressive symptom severity and greater treatment response compared with control conditions after testing," the authors wrote.

Black Dog Institute Director Professor Helen Christensen, one of the study authors, says there is "irrefutable" evidence that clinically developed, online psychological therapy provides an effective and accessible solution to the rising suicide rates in Australia.

The statistics show one in five Australians experience mental illness each year, the most common disorders being anxiety and depression, yet 70 per cent do not seek treatment.
This is because of stigma, cost and availability, said Prof Christensen.

Digital therapy programs, like MoodGYM, enable users to engage with evidence-based mental health programs by simply accessing their computer, tablet of Smartphone.

Many digital programs focus on helping to modify the way people think about the thoughts they have.

Prof Christensen says this can be a "powerful" intervention particularly when somebody first starts experiencing symptoms of depression.

"Just because you think particular things doesn't mean they are true," she said.

"As a lot of girls do, they actually think they really are unattractive and nobody would really find them attractive or want to spend time with them, that's a pretty depressive thought and makes sense you don't feel so good."

Professor Lyn Littlefield is the Executive Director of the Australian Psychological Society and a Professor of Psychology at La Trobe University and says she is in support of online programs because many have shown to be effective.

But they are not particularly good without the assistance of a psychologist, Prof Littlefield said.

"About 90 per cent of people who are self administering a program drop out, don't get to the end. We always recommend therapists-assisted, which means there is someone monitoring how you are going, ringing you up at a regular time," Prof Littlefield told AAP.

Such online models of therapy are good for people living in remote or rural areas of Australia, Prof Littlefield added.

The new research has led to calls for more government funding to support the development of good quality digital therapy programs.

Prof Christensen says she would like the Australian government to consider offering Medicare rebates for online therapy.

"If there are no incentives then industry is not going to be interested," she said.


Thanks, you've subscribed!

Share this free subscription offer with your friends

Email to a Friend

  • Remaining Characters: 500