Depression counselling can be effective via telephone

Depression sufferers receiving telephone therapy are more likely to follow through with the treatment than those attending face-to-face sessions, new research suggests. The study by USA-based Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reveals patients prefer to receive treatment in whatever setting they choose.

An increasing amount of therapists are offering phone counselling as part of their services because of demand, and transport and time constraints making it difficult for patients to attend appointments.

“Our study found psychotherapy conveniently provided by telephone to patients wherever they are is effective and reduces dropout. This suggests these services now should be covered by insurance,” said David Mohr, Ph.D., chief author of the study.

The research, carried out on 325 primary care patients with major depressive disorder, shows telephone therapy is as effective as face-to-face treatment in reducing depression, however its lasting effect is lower after six months.

"The physical presence of the therapist may be therapeutic in a way that helps some patients maintain their improvement in mood. There may be a unique quality about the human contact that increases resilience and maintains the skills learned to manage depression after treatment has ended," Mohr was quoted as saying.

It is hoped the results of the study will lead to more insurance providers covering the costs of telephone therapy sessions.

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