New study to investigate benefits of online treatment of anxiety and depression

3 Feb 2014

The Trinity College Dublin (TCD) School of Psychology has begun the search for participants in a trial to see whether anxiety and/or depression can be treated online.

The project is a collaboration between the TCD team, SilverCloud Health, a Dublin-based developer of online behavioural health and mental wellness solutions, and Aware, Ireland’s depression support, education and information organisation.

A person taking part in the trial will self-administer two online treatments with additional support covering Aware’s remit for the treatment of depression, while TCD’s study will focus on the treatment of generalised anxiety in students, seen particularly around exam time.

As part of the Aware trial, researchers are looking to recruit upwards of 300 participants nationwide to evaluate the effectiveness of a supported online delivered treatment intervention for mild to moderate depression.

Support is being provided by Aware-trained volunteers who have experience in using the SilverCloud Health platform. For those looking to avail of Aware’s Life Skills Online programme, the service will be provided free of charge to participants and aims to help people learn new ways to manage feelings of stress, anxiety, worry or depression.

A call for volunteers

TCD will also be looking for 150 volunteers to take part in its study on general anxiety.

A number of countries across the world have already begun to help patients with depression and anxiety using similar online treatments to those using the SilverLight Health technology which has shown to be successful.

The study’s principle investigator is Dr Derek Richards, director of clinical research and innovation with SilverCloud Health and a research fellow at TCD’s School of Psychology who, with the help of the 450 volunteers, will look to depression and anxiety in Ireland.

“Based on the success achieved to date with supported online treatments for depression and anxiety, we believe that participants in both trials will demonstrate significant decreases in symptoms post-intervention and a corresponding increase in quality of life indicators,” said Richards.

Ireland is one of the most affected nations in terms of depression and anxiety, with reported figures of between 7.9pc-12.3pc of the country suffering from depression while an estimated 36pc of the adult student population suffers from clinical anxiety.

Online help image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic