Efficacy of an Online Program for the Treatment of Mild and Moderate Depression

Major depression (MD) is a disease with a great impact on people´s functioning and is the second leading cause of disability worldwide. It is a condition with a high prevalence, about 10% of men and 20% of women in the population will be diagnosed MD throughout their lives, and has an effect on high economic costs to health services.

While there are many effective therapeutic options for the treatment of depression, many people with depressive episodes do not receive an appropriate treatment or, in fact, do not receive any treatment at all. The social stigma, difficulties to access mental health services, to integrate therapy sessions into working life, or problems to pay for treatment are some of the main barriers to receive adequate treatment.

On-line interventions are easily accessible and low cost, and different studies suggest that these interventions have significant and lasting improvements in different mental disorders. These studies indicate that this type of treatment would be indicated for disorders that, as the case of MD, have a high prevalence and relatively low help-seeking for treatment.

Overview:

Since major depression (MD) has such a negative effect on people’s ability to function and is the second leading cause of disability worldwide, Parc de Salut Mar is conducting a study with the goal of improving treatment. It’s predicted that 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women will be diagnosed with MD. This contributes to a rise in economic costs for health services. Many treatment options are available; however, many people do not receive proper treatment or any treatment at all. Certain barriers are hard for people to overcome. These include social stigma, difficulty accessing mental health services, therapy sessions that fit into working life, or issues with payment for treatment. Online interventions are already widely available at a low cost and easily accessible. Other studies on online interventions have shown they have a lasting and significant improvement on mental disorders. Researchers conducting this study seek to discover help for disorders, such as MD, that have a high prevalence and relatively low health-seeking treatment.

Study information:

This study is classified as randomized (participants are chosen by chance for treatment), parallel (two groups receive two different forms of treatment), and double blind (neither investigators nor participants know which kind of treatment the participants receive). The primary purpose is treatment of major depression (MD).

Sponsors/Collaborators:

The sponsor of this study is Parc de Salut Mar in Barcelona. Instituto de Salud Carlos III collaborates in the research of this study.

Inclusion Criteria:

Anyone ages 18 and older is allowed to participate, men and women are welcome, and participants are required to have major depressive disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR). Their clinical severity must be in the range of mild to moderate, according to the ICG severity scale. A minimum level of reading comprehension and internet browsing must be met by participants. After participants provide written consent, they must have internet access during the seven weeks of the intervention.

Exclusion Criteria:

Participants cannot exhibit suicidal ideation, assessed by the HDRS and clinical interview. They also cannot be experiencing delusional ideas or hallucinations. Those with concomitant psychiatric pathologies of the Axis I or Axis II, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR), are not allowed to participate. Lastly, applicants cannot be enrolled in a structured program/treatment of psychotherapy.