Self-help books ‘treat depression’
Prescribing self-help books at the NHS is a good treatment for depression, a study suggests.
Patients offered books, plus sessions guiding them in how you can use them, had lower levels of depression a year later than those offered usual GP care.
The effect was seen along with some great benefits of other treatments reminiscent of antidepressants, Scottish researchers report inside the journal Plos One.
Such an approach will help the NHS tackle demand for therapy, they said.
More than 200 patients who have been diagnosed with depression by their GP took part inside the study, half whom were also on antidepressant drugs.
Some were supplied with a self-help guide going through different aspects of depression, comparable to being assertive or overcoming sleep problems.
Patients also had three sessions with an adviser who helped them get the foremost out of the books and plan what changes to make.
After four months those that were prescribed the self-help books had significantly lower levels of depression than those that received usual GP care.
A year later, those within the self-help group were likely to be keeping on top in their depression.
Study leader Prof Christopher Williams, from the University of Glasgow, who also wrote the books called Overcoming Depression and coffee Mood, said the guided sessions were the most important to getting people engaged.
The sessions could be delivered as a rule practice without referral to a expert, taking pressure off waiting lists.
In Scotland, a telephone support service has now been arrange to assist support those using the books, that are freely copied and disseminated, he added.
“We found this had an extremely significant clinical impact and the findings are very encouraging,” he said.
“Depression saps people’s motivation and makes it hard to believe change is feasible.”
The challenge for the NHS, where self-help books are already utilized in many places, is find out how to implement this model so people have easy supported access in primary care, he said.
‘Worth investing in’
There have been huge investment in better treatment for depression within the UK in recent times with the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme in England arrange to widen access.
It have been estimated this approach could save the NHS as much as £272m and the broader public sector £700m.
But, says Prof Williams, despite the large levels of investment, it’s only impossible to refer everyone with depression to mental health services.
Dr Paul Blenkiron, consultant in adult psychiatry at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the effects showed that guided self-assistance is effective and is “something the NHS ought to be investing in”.
He is currently advising on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, on a countrywide Books On Prescription Scheme, to be rolled out across UK public libraries this year.
Thirty books, including the single utilized in the study, has been selected.
But Dr Blenkiron said self-help does not be suitable for everybody: “The important thing thing is that the man is committed to doing a little work.”