Monday, March 04, 2013

Research Says Self-Help Surfing and Reading Aid in Reducing Depression

Reading self-help books and browsing internet sites could be just what the doctor ordered to help with symptoms of severe depression, according to a new study published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).  
An international team of researchers seeking treatment options for depression – a debilitating condition that affects at least 14.8 million in the U.S. – conducted a meta-analysis of multiple studies involving 2,470 people with varying levels of depression and found that ‘low intensity’ treatment had significant effects on severely depressed people.
Treatment through websites and self-help books (also known as bibliotherapy) worked for both severely and less severely depressed patients, said the researchers, and they recommended these "low intensity" therapies as a first step and initial treatment for depression.
Psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living With Depression, has researched bibliotherapy and the use of books and websites in treating depression and says this can help patients in several very important ways.
  •  “They help with psychoeducation, which is a hallmark first step in understanding illness,” she says. “Books and websites explain information in easy to understand terms and can be accessed at any time, helping to make people feel less alone in their struggle.”
  •  “They aid in reducing stigma by addressing the myths of mental illness, thereby allowing a depressed person to not feel shame about having this illness. It also invites readers to find global, local or online resources and support should they want to be part of a self-help community.”
  •  “They also provide hope, especially when self-help books and websites detail personal stories of children or adults, and even high profile celebrities, who've moved through their depression successfully."