Phone Therapy for Depression
Chatting with your shrink on the phone about your depressive symptoms may be just as effective in conquering the affliction as lying on the couch – and you'll be more likely to stick with the treatment rather than dropping out. The only possible drawback to dialing the doc, according to a study led by David Mohr, PhD of Northwestern University in Chicago and published June 6th in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is that the beneficial effects of cognitive behavioral therapy may not last as long when sessions are not held in person.
The investigators undertook their study because previous research has shown that time constraints, transportation problems, and cost often keep depressed patients from visiting psychotherapists. The team's findings that phone therapy can be just as good initially and that patients aren't as likely to quit are encouraging, but the long-term prognosis may not be as rosy. According to MedPage Today, a researcher said that "meeting face-to-face may be therapeutic in a way that promotes the maintenance of improvements in some patients or the physical presence of the therapist may have some beneficial effects that last."
In their article, the team wrote: "If the finding that face-to-face treatment produces better maintenance of gains after treatment cessation is not an artifact, it suggests that longer-term follow-up is critical in research examining the effects of tele-mental health intervention and telemedicine more broadly."
However, they also emphasized that telephone therapy "can overcome barriers to adhering to face-to-face treatment." Especially if you live in a rural area with limited access to therapists, or you are feeling cash-strapped in this economy, phone therapy may be well worth considering as a way to lift yourself out of depression.