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How effective are online treatments for depression and anxiety?

A new study being undertaken by researchers in Trinity College is trying to find out…

Image: anxious woman image via Shutterstock

AS SUPPORT SERVICES across the country bring their services online and spread them out through social media, more people in Ireland are using online therapeutic programmes for treating depression and anxiety.

A new study, using clinical trials, is now being undertaken by researchers at the School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin.

The trials will investigate the effectiveness of two online self-administered treatments that also include support.

These research projects are a collaboration between Trinity, SilverCloud Health, a Dublin-based developer of online behavioural health and mental wellness solutions, and Aware, the national depression support, education and information organisation.

The trial with Aware is a national trial of an online treatment intervention for depression and the one at Trinity is an online treatment intervention for generalised anxiety in students. In Ireland, clinical anxiety has been reported at 36 per cent and clinical stress at 30 per cent of the adult student population.

Participants

As part of the Aware trial, researchers are looking to recruit upwards of 300 participants across the country to evaluate the effectiveness of a supported online delivered treatment intervention for mild to moderate depression. Support is being provided by trained volunteers with experience in using the platform. The programme will be provided free of charge to participants and aims to help people learn new ways to manage feelings of stress, anxiety, worry or depression.

Researchers are also seeking to recruit 150 students to participate in the anxiety study to test the effectiveness of a supported online delivered treatment for generalised anxiety symptoms among students.

Success

In a statement yesterday the university said these kinds of treatments have been used throughout the world and have yielded success.

“Based on the success achieved to date with supported online treatments for depression and anxiety, we believe that participants in both trials will demonstrate significant decreases in symptoms post-intervention and a corresponding increase in quality of life indicators,” commented Dr Derek Richards, Director of Clinical Research & Innovation, SilverCloud Health and a Research Fellow at the School of Psychology, Trinity.

Column: A year ago, I walked out of work on the brink of the worst depression of my life>

Read: Calls to St Patrick’s mental health support line up by almost one third>

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