Simple psychological treatments can reduce depression in the community

December 07, 2000

Problem solving treatment and group psychoeducation for depression: multicentre randomised controlled trial

As part of a major European study of depression in urban and rural communities, research in this week's BMJ finds that two simple psychological interventions are effective in reducing the severity and duration of depression and improving mental and social functioning in adults.

Dowrick and colleagues identified 452 adults with depressive disorders in nine urban and rural communities across Europe. Participants were randomly assigned to either problem solving treatment, a course on prevention of depression or received no treatment (controls), and were assessed at six and 12 months.

Although problem solving was more acceptable to depressed people, both interventions were effective in reducing the severity and duration of depressive disorders and improving mental and social functioning. At six months, the proportion of depressed problem solving participants was 17% less than controls. Similarly, for the depression prevention course, the difference in proportions of depressed participants was 14%. By 12 months no significant effects were retained in either treatment group, but booster sessions might sustain treatment benefits, suggest the authors.

These findings should influence counselling services and encourage depressed people to seek psychological help, conclude the authors.

Professor Christopher Dowrick, Department of Primary Care, University of Liverpool, UK


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