Internet-Based Psychotherapy Intervention Improves Depression

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Patients show greater depression improvement when CBT-focused Internet program added to treatment.

TORONTO  — Supplementing usual depression care with an Internet-based program that provides additional cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions leads to better improvement in depression severity than usual care alone, according to a study conducted in Germany.

The Effectiveness of Internet-based Depression Treatment (EVIDENT) trial enrolled 1,013 participants with mild to moderate depression who were randomized to just care as usual (CAU) or CAU and a 12-week Internet invention known as Deprexis.

“It covers cognitive work, behavioral techniques, acceptance and interpersonal skills,” lead author Jan Philipp Klein, MD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Lubeck University in Germany, told Psychiatry Advisor of Deprexis. “They are presented in little snippets.

“You get a little bit of information and then the program elicits your feedback,” continued Klein, who presented data on the EVIDENT trial as a poster at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. “The provision of further material is tailored based on your response, so it’s interactive in that manner.”

Of the enrolled patients, one-third were on medication, and another third were engaged in psychotherapy at the time of the trial start. The primary outcome measure was the Patient Health Questionaire: PHQ-9, a self-rated depression severity scale. A second measure was the clinician-rated Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-24).

Although PHQ-9 scores declined in both groups, the change was much greater in the group that participated in the Deprexis program. In addition, the response rate was higher in that group than the CAU group based on the HDRS-24.

Klein noted that the Internet intervention can benefit those with depression in many ways.

“It can be used as you’re waiting for actual treatment,” with a mental health professional, he said. “It can be used as post-relapse kind of prevention with material that was presented in therapy after therapy. It can be a top-up therapy between” psychotherapy sessions.


Klein JP, et al. Surfing Away from Sadness? A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Internet Intervention for Depression. Poster P3-032. Presented at: APA 2015. May 16-20, 2015; Toronto, Canada.