Study Finds Inexpensive Depression Treatment May Help
> 6/30/2006 9:15:29 AM

An article published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology has found that something as simple as a targeted mailing may in fact be effective in treating mild depression. As we discussed earlier, targeted interventions can be much more effective in intervening on the part of those struggling with depression. In this study however, researchers from Washington University in Seattle found that students who received a directed mailing as intervention for mild depression had significantly improved symptoms upon followup when compared to similar students who received no such mailing.

This type of intervention has been used and proven effective in alcoholism treatment for some time. The university's press release (linked above) describes the procedure:

For the study, nearly 1,200 students were screened for symptoms of depression. More than 200 met the criteria for depression, and 177 were recruited and completed a more-detailed baseline assessment for depression and how they cope with it.

A week after this assessment, half of the students received the intervention that consisted of a personalized feedback letter and a brochure. The letter began with a paragraph that told the students the concerns they reported during the assessment were consistent with depression and that this is a common experience for college students. The letter then reflected the personal concerns students expressed. It also listed the various coping strategies each was already using to deal with his or her depression, and indicated that there were many things the students could do to reduce depression.

The brochure, prepared for the study, listed six types of strategies students could use -- social support, pleasant activities, exercise, self-help literature, meditation and spirituality, and medication -- to help relieve their depression. The brochure also gave the students examples of problem solving and how to change their thought processes. Finally, it provided a list of on- and off-campus treatment resources.

The remaining students in the study simply received a thank you note that included phone numbers that they could call for help or counseling. The differences in response were pretty stunning.

After one month, students who received the intervention reported a 20 percent reduction in the severity of their depression symptoms, compared with eight percent of the students who did not receive the intervention.

The study also found that feelings of hopelessness declined 31 percent among students who received the intervention, compared with seven percent among those who did not receive the intervention.

These types of interventions are effective primarily as preventative options. The test only looked at mild depression or depressive symptoms, as this improved effectiveness of the effort. The results make it pretty clear, though, that the study was a success.

As lead author and doctoral student Irene Markman Geisner pointed out, depression is a major problem on college campuses: "Depression is a serious concern among college students. Our counseling centers are overrun with depression, as well as other problems. At any given time, up to 35 percent of college students have depressed moods. They are not clinically depressed, per se, but their mood clouds their academic and social lives and puts them at much greater risk for future clinical depression."

In an earlier post we talked about the need for college administrators to get creative in dealing with mental health problems on college campuses. This study offers another great example how treatment can be both effective and cost efficient if only we are willing to think about the situation from another angle. Beyond the ivory tower though, insurance providers and other health care groups may be able to take something away from this study. Implementing this type of intervention system in the general public may not be feasible, but any group (service organizations, corporations, etc.) could easily use it to reduce mental health costs, both financial and personal.


Does this article explain or show the inexpensive way to treat depression?
Posted by: Depression Topics 5/16/2007 11:44:18 AM

It is just an article on how inexpensive depression treatment might help i dont think it advertise any inexpensive way to treat depression though.Webmaster
Posted by: Jaree 5/16/2007 11:27:20 AM

Thank you for your professional approach and creating more awareness on such an important issue.

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Posted by: Larry 2/19/2008 12:53:55 PM

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