If you're feeling depressed but can't see a shrink in person, the next best thing may be instant messaging, according to a new British study.
Online cognitive behavioral therapy for depression -- with patients and therapists communicating in real time via instant messaging, or IM -- was not only effective, but could broaden access to treatment, researchers reported in the Aug. 22 issue of The Lancet.
After four months, 38 percent of patients who had participated in the Internet-based therapy program had recovered from depression, compared with 24 percent of those in a control group, according to Dr. David Kessler of the University of Bristol.
After eight months' follow-up, 42 percent of the treatment group -- but only 26 percent of controls -- had recovered.
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