Phone-Based Psychotherapy Helps Ease Depression

Study in depressed MS patients shows it may prove valuable

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THURSDAY, Sept. 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Telephone-administered psychotherapy may help relieve the depression of patients battling multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that 16 weeks of therapy by phone helped ease feelings of depression, particularly sessions focusing on what psychologists call cognitive-behavioral therapy. In this type of therapy, patients are taught to manage the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression.

Therapy delivered by telephone could prove a key way to combat depression, the researchers said in an article in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Although two-thirds of depressed patients prefer psychotherapy to antidepressants, just 10 percent to 45 percent ever make a first appointment, and half will drop out by the end of treatment, experts say. Reasons driving this poor turnout include physical impairments, transportation problems, proximity of services and lack of time or financial resources.

Phone-based therapy gets around many of those problems, but the researchers say further research is necessary "to examine if the outcomes of telephone-administered therapies are equivalent to face-to-face interventions."

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more about depression.

SOURCES: Archives of General Psychiatry, news release, Sept. 5, 2005

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