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CBT self-help packages lead the way in treatment for depression


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) should be one of the preferred routes for treatment of individuals experiencing mild to moderate depression, according to a new report published by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Depression has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the largest causes of “disease burden” in the world. It is a deeply distressing condition for sufferers and their family and friends. With depression also having a strong association with suicide, it provides clear and significant costs to both individuals, their relatives, as well as to the wider society and economy.

The NICE report, which offers guidelines to improve the treatment and care of people suffering from depression, considers a range of treatment options and identifies CBT as one of the key therapies for mild to moderate depression. The use of anti-depressants is no longer recommended for the treatment of mild depression.

However, whilst the NICE guidelines highlight CBT as an effective treatment, there is a dearth of CBT practitioners in the UK and lengthy waiting lists of between six months and a year in many areas.

Helping meet the need for CBT treatment is Yorkshire based company Media Innovations. The company’s Calipso product range offers clinically proven self-help materials designed to be used by patients in a supervised clinical setting.

Overcoming Depression is available in both multi-media CD Rom and paper based formats. It has been authored by respected CBT practitioner, Dr Chris Williams who as a Past-President of British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies ( has many years’ experience of treating patients suffering from conditions such as anxiety, depression and bulimia.
“CBT offers patients the opportunity to learn a set of skills which will help them in the long-term by aiding their understanding of why they feel a certain way, enabling them to identify key areas for change and providing them with skills to better change elements of their lives that may lead them to feeling depressed,” says Dr Williams.

Conventional methods of delivering CBT through one-to-one and group sessions with therapists have made it a relatively expensive form of treatment. This can also limit patient access to an already stretched area of the NHS.

Overcoming Depression self-help materials are cost-effective for both the primary care provider and the patient. Patients will speak to a clinician prior to starting each of the six 45-minute sessions with the CD Rom, which they undertake alone, and then discuss their experiences at the end. This releases clinical time for practitioners and enables rapid access for patients. The anonymity of working with a computer allows patients to answer questions more honestly than they might in a one-to-one session and many cite the feeling of empowerment that self-help can bring.

Additionally, modules are available for practitioners, also delivered via CD Rom, which offer training in identifying mild to moderate mental health disorders in patients and also teach the basics of CBT.

In secondary care, the SPIRIT (Structured Psychosocial InteRventions In Teams) project has trained 219 practitioners (nurses, doctors and occupational therapists) in both community and inpatient teams to use structured CBT self-help materials. The project, funded by the Greater Glasgow Health Board under the Modernising Mental Health initiative, aims to train staff to use the Overcoming Depression self-help resources. The second stage also considers the use of CBT self-help for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment resistant depression and to help people who self harm.

The Calipso product range stands out as the only package on the market available in computerised format, offering jargon free CBT based treatment for patients suffering from mild to moderate depression.

Its advocates include Dr Chris Manning, Chairman of PRIMHE - the UK’s primary care professional charity dedicated to mental health and the care of those with mental illness.

Dr Manning said: “Self-help and self-reliance are key to building recovery and CBT is a proven intervention for depression and anxiety. We welcome the NICE guidelines and their emphasis on psychological interventions. Resources such as Calipso will mean that effective interventions can be delivered to the primary care front-line as speedily and effectively as possible.”

Jo Kelly | alfa
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