Depression treatment often encompasses both medications (such as Lexapro or Prozac) as well as talk therapy, and while in-person visits are required for the former, research indicates that phone therapy could be beneficial for the latter.
Depression treatment by phone is not currently a widely available option, but experts say that not only is the practice convenient for both patients and providers, but that those receiving therapy may be more likely to participate in phone treatment.
Research also indicates that patients vastly prefer talk therapy for depression treatment over drug therapies (which sometimes have unpleasant side effects such as weight gain), but in-person therapy can sometimes be challenging for patients- particularly those who have career or transportation conflicts.
Researchers divided 225 patients diagnosed with depression and receiving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment into two groups.
One group attended sessions in person, while the other received talk therapy depression treatment by phone.
One of the study’s researchers, Joyce Ho, PhD, told WebMD that patients who received depression treatment by phone were far more likely to continue treatment:
“Telephone therapy was able to reduce dropout. Four out of five who got therapy over the phone could complete 18 weeks of treatment, while only two out of three assigned to face-to-face therapy could complete treatment.”
Furthermore, after 18 weeks of treatment, patients in both groups who continued on in therapy showed the positive progress in their depression treatment, indicating that depression treatment by phone could be of benefit to those who find that depression makes it difficult to get dressed and leave the house.
The study comparing phone depression treatment to in-person therapy was published in Journal of the American Medical Association.