Psychotherapy by telephone as effective as face-to-face therapy for depression

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association “suggests that, for the depressed, getting psychotherapy by phone might make sense.”

For the study, “researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine offered 18 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a kind of talk therapy, to more than 300 patients with major depression,” the NPR “Shots” blog reports. “Half received treatment in person and half over the phone.”

According to HealthDay, “The study found that about 21 percent of people receiving therapy via telephone dropped out, compared to 33 percent of those in face-to-face therapy.”

WebMD points out, “Most of the dropouts in the face-to-face group were in the first few weeks of treatment. This suggests that phone sessions overcome some of the barriers to psychotherapy,” such as “transportation, time constraints, and the sheer effort that it takes for a depressed person to get dressed, get out of the house, and go to a therapist’s office.”

However, investigators “noted that patients were more likely to maintain improvements in depression six months after sessions stopped if they received face-to-face treatment,” MedPage Today notes, adding that “the study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.”

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