Digital mental health therapy “significantly” relieves anxiety and depression, study reveals

Digital cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can “significantly” relieve anxiety and depression, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by the University of Dublin in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, gives new hope to people with mental health conditions unable to access traditional support during the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the research, digital mental health interventions, such as those conducted over video conferencing software or through self-help applications, improved outcomes for people suffering with their mental health, compared to those who did not receive treatment.

The findings show that after an eight-week programme of digital CBT, around 56 per cent of participants no longer reported symptoms of anxiety, depression, or a joint diagnosis. The study also demonstrated a significant decrease in symptom scores after three and 12 months.

Commenting on the breakthrough, co-author Dr Derek Richards said: “This is an important, large-scale research that demonstrates how digitally-provided cognitive behavioural therapy can enhance a wider mental health therapy programme calibrated to an individual’s needs.”

He added: “Due to its results on long-term improvement, recovery and cost-effectiveness, at a time of increasing demand for psychological and behavioural healthcare, digital mental health care should be viewed as a standard part of psychological support and no longer simply as an innovative approach.”

The study comes as a growing number of people in the UK report symptoms of depression and anxiety due to the Covid-19 lockdown and associated risk factors, such as isolation, financial concerns and concerns about the future.

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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