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Depressed? Net-based Treatments Can Help 154

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the online-wellness dept.
Jung and the Restless writes "Researchers at an Australian university have found that regular visits to therapeutic and educational web sites can successfully treat depression. Researchers directed patients to The MoodGYM, a cognitive behavior therapy site, and BluePages, a depression education site. After 12 months, users of both web sites reported improvement, with the educational site working out better than the behavior therapy site. A psychotherapist who did not participate in the study says that the results aren't all that surprising. 'Cognitive behavioral strategies — sometimes in conjunction with medication — are the most effective means of treating depression,' and 'a person who is visiting an educational site like BluePages is taking the necessary steps with her own self-care. That's a key component of successful treatment for depression'"
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Depressed? Net-based Treatments Can Help

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  • by rev9 (933996) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:51AM (#16606040)
    If you had RTFA and actually checked the links there, you would have noticed that beside the 'am-I-depressed-tests' there is also a community. Take a look at the blueboard: http://blueboard.anu.edu.au/ [anu.edu.au] In my opinion that's a huge thing for someone who is really depressed and afraid of talking about it with his family/friends.
  • by DamnYouIAmALion (530667) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:51AM (#16606044)

    I used to have depression, and have only recently (this month) gone back to work. I think these sites are interesting, but use them as an 'extra' to getting proper help. Go and see your doctor, they'll help identify what the best course of action is, and go from there.

    Of course, realising that you are depressed isn't easy and realising you need help is even harder. Actually going and getting help is the hardest of all, but you'll never be so glad when you finally do. And remember, your friends and family are there to help too - don't feel embarrassed asking for their help, everyone needs help at sometime in their life

    - Andy.

  • Psych training is pretty damned poor in Australia.
    It's bad everywere. Psychologists are not real mediacal doctors. They are philosophy/humanities students posing as doctors and you're falling for it.

    Modern psychology more closely resembles adherance to Galen's anatomy or the teachings of Aristotle. Theories are basically made up out of thin air by lordly academics, then applied to misforunate real people. Experimental confirmation of these often dubious theories is often nonexistant, and even when performed, like this study, is seriously lacking in scientific rigor. It's cargo cult science most of the time; calling the gods, but no science happens.

    So the next time you think of going to a psychologist, don't. Go to a real doctor and have them examine you, and get your health advice from a professional scientist.
  • by noigmn (929935) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:55AM (#16606332)
    One thing I'd note is that thinking you need someone to help you is acknowledging depression, thinking in the end it will be someone else but yourself is perpetuating it.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:59AM (#16606358)
    Increases serotonin levels, and for guys testosterone completely naturally. You start to look good and feel good about yourself. There are a bunch of other beneficial side effects. It seems that the human body is designed to be physically stressed on a regular basis.

     
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @05:53AM (#16606550)
    Have to disagree with you there OMF. I thought the same things for half my life until in my 20s I started getting serious
    depressions. I still get them, but by god I know enough about psychology, psychiatry and medication now. There is quackery
    on all sides of mental health. You think anybody actually understands the mechanism of antidepressants? Only in a fuzzy
    and ad hoc experimental way, the biochemistry is bewildering. Most doctors and even some specialists haven't a clue. What is
    scary is the way they are often puppets of the drug companies pushing their latest "cures". The DSM guide is practically
    a crock of shite, and all the pros know it is deep in their hearts, but it's the best tool they have and the only
    picture of mental dysfunction available as a common reference. Most psychs get the diagnosis wrong for the first
    few times, they are too pressured to jump to a conclusion, always get a second and third opinion. The only thing that actually
    worked for me was one on one talk therapy, but in most juristictions it's too expensive or simply unavailable on national
    health insurance programmes. Funny thing is I studied cognitive science for many years, but that was formal schemas, predicate
    logic and Boltzmann machines which obviously had no bearing my own problems. It made interesting conversation with psychologists
    though, to be able to correct them when they are getting too fuzzy and explain how neural networks actually function.
    Upshot of all is that I still get depressed, less often and less severe, but I manage it, anticipate it and accept it better now.
    The best pieces of wisdom I received are roughly as follows, so this might save some of you some money :) .....

    1) Most the causes *are* deeply rooted in childhood formative experiences and you need to remember your life context
    and reinterpret your emotions in that light. Until you do you have no idea what crazy buttons the world is pushing for you.
    I think of them as hidden methods in my brain object that get called by backdoor sploits ;)

    2) Intelligence works against you. How many blissfully thick people do you know who suffer? Remember that line from the wife of
    John Nash in Beautiful Mind - you can't use your mind to fix your mind when the tool itself is broken. By sheer force of will you
    can sometimes bootstrap yourself back, but external input is a vital part of an expedient recovery.

    3) Depression is a sane reaction to an insane environment. The world is barking insane. It's full of other stupid, lazy, damaged
    people (increasing the ones running the show). There is war, misery, death, pointless waste, arrogance, fear, greed... our modern
    Western existence is practically designed to send smart people insane. All the things that offer security and continuity in
    modern life, the church, the state, employment - those are all fucked, they are crumbling away as we speak.
    Most people use two coping mechanisms, denial and distraction. If you can't engage in either of these two self comforting drugs
    then you have only one option left, change your environment. Throw out your television. Stop reading the FUD stories on /. designed
    to provoke insecurity and outrage. Build new friendships and visit new places etc.

    4) Acceptance. Get used to the idea that you have a lifelong incurable disease. Understand how it affects your capabilities and
    dreams and learn to recognise the signs of the highs and lows. Make hay while the sun shines high and prepare for the winters.

    5) Talk to your partner, family and friends. Part of the disease is isolation and trying to fight it on your own. It takes many years
    to work out that friends *don't know* you are depressed when you don't call for 4 months because you are up every night hacking away
    because it's the only thing that stops you going mental. Tell them and explain your situation and needs. Most will stick by you
    and the ones who won't were never your real friends anyway.
  • by cerberusss (660701) on Friday October 27, 2006 @06:04AM (#16606598) Homepage Journal
    Have you any idea how condescending you sound? There's a difference between feeling low and feeling depressed. And if you haven't been through the latter, then you wouldn't suggest to 'realize that life isn't a dance on roses'.

    You can't imagine how it's like to drive on the highway with 90 mph and thinking "I might as well turn the steering wheel real quick and be done with it". For weeks on end. Every day.

    So cut the "know-it-all" attitude and accept that there are thing you don't know a rat's ass about. Asshole.
  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:25AM (#16606904) Journal
    You know, IANAD (doctor) and I'm only telling you this from personal experience so this does not have to apply to you at all but when I was depressed (I had been in a phase of depression for about 3 years straight at that point and it was constantly getting worse) and went to a psych he said I needed to get more sunlight and he gave me Ritalin.

    Didn't help much. The Ritalin made the few good times exceptionally great but the many bad times... My then girlfriend and now wife describes it in such a way that I'm asking myself whether calling Satan an asshole would have been a recreational activity compared to spending time with me.

    Anyway, what helped me was my wife, just by being there, and I myself. What basically helped me was forcing myself to have a more positive outlook. Like when everything was going down the drain I relaxed my face (because when I'm in a foul mood I usually frown constantly) and put on a smile. It was very relaxing and while, at first, it was always a fake smile it soon started becoming more real. And by smiling I actually felt better. You know like a release in endorphines results in a smile it seemed that a smile also resulted in a release of endorphines.

    The problem is, depression is like a dog biting his own tail. It makes itself worse the longer you have it. You need to keep a hold on the positive things in life, no matter how few and far between they might be. I know my way isn't that easy but it doesn't hurt to try it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:13AM (#16607232)

    I suffer from depression, and my recovery gets prolonged by well wishers who spend their time spouting idiotic comments like you just did.
    Depression is NOT the same as feeling a little sad or 'blue'.
    It is NOT something you can "just get over it", nor is it something "you brought on yourself".

    Do you HAVE to be in a strait jacket, spazzing out to deserve treatment? Where does that put people like me? I've lost my education to it, and all i keep hearing is "Buck up, snap out of it, stop wasting time, Life sucks - deal with it" even when my greatest achievement has been to NOT stay in bed and cry - To have defeated the urge to give up.

    It takes EVERYTHING I have, to just be able to sit up and talk to people and try and have as "normal" a day as possible.

    Someone once said that - for some people the very act of going on, going on, is the greatest act of them all.

    Would you have these people suffer because you are incapable of seeing anything but the obvious?

    Ps- Please, please, please learn. My life has suffered because of people who said the same things as you, dont ever be in a position to regret doing it to the ones you love.

  • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:24AM (#16607326)
    Depression (at least in mild cases) is one of the few diseases where people taking placebo do get better, actually. And while the use of 'active comparators' in drug trials is becoming more common (mainly because it allows you to demonstrate better results, and thus demand better reimbursement from Medicare and HMOs, e.g.) using placebo is still very common. As long as the patient knows when they sign up that they might not be getting the study drug, it's perfectly ethical.

    The exception would be in cases where effective treatment exists, and withholding it would be a death sentence. For example, you probably won't see many placebo-controlled trials of new HIV drugs. In these cases active comparator trials are the only way to fly.
  • Re:Annoying... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bambi Dee (611786) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:10AM (#16607776)
    I've seen highly creative and active people fall into depression for no external reason whatsoever. Is it so inconceivable that it can be a serious illness, and that it's hard to fight that illness with the very organ afflicted by it?

    Even if depression is purely reaction, a being-overwhelmed - once you're choking on insidiously persuasive infinite loops of "I'm filth, everyone can see it, I have no right to ask for help, I have no right to feel better", once self-injury sounds like a perfectly reasonable punishment for being yourself, once meeting your friends makes you cry with fear, once writing, painting, coding, loving, laughing all seem increasingly bizarre - how do you chill out with that shit screaming in your head?

    Please excuse the angst and drama. I suppose it's exactly the kind of stuff people love to make fun of... but it's my description of depression. Not a "light" depression, maybe, but what kind of depression could ever be "light"?

    Maybe you can chill out in that state and look forward to working on your projects or spending time with your kids or what have you. That's great... quite amazing, actually. And I suppose it does help having built up a sensible life - ideally before falling to pieces. But even then there's no guarantee you'll recognise it once push comes to shove. Well, I guess I shouldn't presume to speak for you.
  • Re:Annoying... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WuphonsReach (684551) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:06AM (#16609220)
    Kid, I'd wish a bout of severe depression on you, but that's not even something I'd do to my worst enemy. When you say "people have really unimportant lives", you're making a value judgement that you have no place making. Don't argue with me now, just think about that and come back and argue 20 years from now.

    Depression is a very difficult disease to deal with. It's also a complicated disease (or set of diseases) where the symptoms of all the different types of depression are pretty much the same. There are multiple causes and they often feedback on themselves which makes things a whole lot worse. It's not a trite saying to say that depression has a significant fatality rate as a disease. It needs to be treated as a potentially life-threatening disease. But like all diseases, there are various levels of severity ranging from mild to severe.

    There's external-induced (events, relationships, or other things not under your control) depression which overloads the individual and causes them to give up hope. That's more amenable to talk therapy or even simple counseling where someone sits down with you and helps you formulate a plan. Some of the exercises are learning how to separate / identify which things you can change and which things are out of your control, then focusing on changing what is possible. Other goals of therapy are to help you identify which thoughts are incorrect views of reality ("everyone thinks that I'm ugly / worthless / stupid / etc") and to take steps to challenge those thoughts. See "Feeling Good" by David D. Burns for a good book about CBT.

    Then there's the chemical side of the disease where the brain (other organs) don't make the right chemicals, or the receptors for those chemicals aren't working right. (This is where things get very experimental, theoretical, and understandings are constantly revised.) Even though there are no external events that would seem to cause depression, the individual spends their waking hours in pain and is seriously considering suicide as a viable solution to end the pain. Speech becomes slow and slurred, there's mental confusion, short-term memory issues, and you feel like you're viewing the world through a piece of gauze (or an oily lens).

    And the two major sides of the disease often combine in a particular case, making it even more difficult and twisted. They'll feed off of each other, as the individual starts to sabotage relationships which makes them feel even worse as a person. And which also destroys the person's support network (unless the friends understand what is going on, which is rare) making recovery an even more difficult road.

    Where things get tricky is that when you are depressed, it is very difficult to seek treatment. Seeking treatment requires you to believe that you can get better, which is 180 degrees in opposition to how you feel about yourself at that point in time. You'll be worried that they'll lock you up (resulting in friends, family, coworkers, bosses thinking that you're simply "crazy"). Or you could simply be worried about being branded as "crazy" or "seeking attention" by the above people. There's a huge social stigma towards mental disease and popular culture (TV, Movies) usually perpetuate the misunderstandings and misinformation in order to make for more 'engaging' story lines.

    The reality of the matter is far different. Once you've been through a successful cycle of treatment, a lot of depressives become very outgoing and honest about their disease with others. Basically, you decide that the potential stigma is nothing compared to the pain and suffering that you've been through and that your suffering was increased because you were trying to hide the fact that you have depression. That relieves a lot of the pressure and you start trying to educate people around you about the disease (if they're willing to listen). Often, that forwardness and truthfulness results in someone else realizing (or admitting to themselves) and seeking treatment.

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