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Guided self-help has benefits for those caring for a loved one with depression

Guided self-help can improve the experience of people who are caring for family members with depression, suggests a randomised controlled trial.

Carers responded well in a guided self-help trial in Thailand, where rates of depression are rising

Picture credit: Alamy

The trial was conducted in Thailand, a country where rates of depression appear to be increasing markedly. Participants were adult family carers of patients with depression, recruited after attending the outpatient department of a psychiatric hospital in the city of Chiang Mai. Carers were randomised to guided self-help (n=27) or standard information and support (n=27).

Those in the intervention group received a manual based on cognitive therapy and self-help principles. It contained eight modules; participants were asked to complete one module each week. All participants in the trial received a brief weekly telephone call from the researcher, designed to give support and, for the intervention group, answer questions related to the manual.

The findings showed a significant reduction in the total negative experience of caring, along with an improvement in the total positive experience of caring, from baseline to post-treatment, in the intervention group compared with the control group. Treatment effects were maintained at one-month follow-up.

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