Psychotherapy is usually an effective treatment for depression, but many patients who are referred for therapy by their primary care doctors never follow through. Making and sticking to appointments at a therapist's office is a challenge for some, whether because of access and transportation issues or mental roadblocks—perhaps they feel that there's a stigma attached to receiving therapy for depression, or maybe their depression robs them of the motivation necessary to get to a therapist's office.
One possible solution is receiving therapy over the phone, clearly easier than schlepping to an office once a week. If this sounds like a big step down from stretching out on a therapist's couch, you'll be surprised to hear this: A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that depressed patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy over the phone experienced the same improvement in their symptoms as patients who saw their therapists in person.
This might be especially useful to consider if you have an elderly parent or other relation who can't or won't attend in-person therapy for depression. One corollary to this good news about phone therapy is that at a six-month follow up patients who had received the phone therapy were slightly more likely to be depressed than those who had received in person therapy. Though the research didn't look at this, maybe the ideal scenario for many people would be a hybrid plan, where they receive more frequent phone sessions but then do face-to-face check-ins with their therapists at longer intervals.
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