Jump to content

Study: Non-drug interventions help all kinds of depression


Recommended Posts

  • Administrator

Mild, moderate, and severe depression all show promising response to non-drug interventions, meta-analysis shows. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/Depression/37557


Major Depression Does Respond to 'Minor' Tools

By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Published: February 26, 2013


Action Points

  • Note that some have recommended that initial therapy of depression begin with low-intensity interventions. This meta-analysis looked at the question of how initial severity of depression affects the benefit derived from low-intensity interventions for depression.
  • The data suggest that patients with more severe depression at baseline show at least as much clinical benefit from low-intensity interventions as less severely depressed patients.

Patients with more severe depression gain as much clinical benefit from low-intensity interventions, such as self-help books and websites, as those with less severe depression, researchers found.


In a meta-analysis, patients who were more severely depressed at baseline had larger treatment effects with low-intensity interventions than those who were less depressed (coefficient -0.1, 95% CI -0.19 to -0.002), reported Peter Bower, PhD, of the University of Manchester in England, and colleagues online in BMJ.


They cautioned, however, that the magnitude of the interaction was small and may not be clinically significant. Still, it is possible that patients with "more severe depression can be offered low-intensity interventions as part of a stepped-care model."


In the U.K., the standard treatment for depression is a stepped-care approach, in which patients are first treated with low-intensity psychological interventions based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These typically involve written materials such as self-help books or interactive ones such as videos and websites that require little professional guidance.


High-intensity interventions, such as therapist-led CBT, are usually reserved for those who fail to respond to the low-intensity treatments.


But there's little evidence as to whether the initial severity of depression moderates the effectiveness of low-intensity interventions, the researchers noted, so they conducted a meta-analysis of 16 studies involving 2,470 patients with depression.


The overall effect size of low-intensity interventions was -0.42 (95% CI -0.55 to -0.29), they reported, which translates to a drop of four or five points in depression scores beyond the change seen in controls.


In further analyses, Bower and colleagues found a significant negative interaction between baseline severity and treatment effect, which suggested that patients who are more severely depressed at baseline had larger treatment effects than those who are less severely depressed.


Again, they warned that this drop "would be equivalent to an additional drop of around one point on both [beck Depression Inventory and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale] for a one standard deviation increase in initial severity, an effect which may not be clinically significant."



The study was limited by the potential for publication bias, reviewer selection bias, and availability bias, but the researchers concluded that their findings suggest using low-intensity interventions could be a first step for all patients, even when the initial severity of depression is high.


"Clearly some patients will not find such interventions useful, and it would seem sensible to continue to refer some cases to more intense psychological intervention or pharmacological management until further evidence is generated confirming our findings," they wrote. "The current data suggest that the threshold could be relatively high if patients are willing to engage in low-intensity interventions."


A co-author reported relationships with GAIA, a company that owns and developed one of the low-intensity interventions involved in the study.


Primary source: BMJ

Source reference:

Bower P, et al "Influence of initial severity of depression on effectiveness of low intensity interventions: meta-analysis of individual patient data" BMJ 2013; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f540.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy