Internet psychiatry

Success for online therapy

5:27 min

The Internet Psychiatry Clinic at the Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, just south of Stockholm, has treated thousands of patients for depression, anxiety disorder and social phobia since it opened in 2007.

Considering that they only have 14 licensed psychologists on staff, and not all of them work with patients on a day to day basis, that is an extraordinary result, they say.

The treatment provided is the same as conventional cognitive behavioural therapy and the results are often the same or better than traditional group therapy or individual therapy, the only difference is that instead of meeting their clients face to face the contact is done via the internet.

“One obvious tradition that made it clear that this was possible was the fact that there are self-help methods,” said Professor Nils Lindefors, the head of the Psychiatry Department.

“So the idea that we took to clinic was with some coaching this self help procedures would be possible. And obviously it works.”

And once all the clinical trials showed that the quality could be upheld online and that the treatment reached the same result it was time to open the clinic.

About half a million Swedes are currently taking some kind anti-depressants and experts figure that at least half of them would benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy.

But most experts point out that these figures are misleading since it is a well known fact that many people who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders never ask the healthcare system for help.

But the waiting list for those who have asked the public system for help is long.

So, with an already severe shortage of psychiatrists predicted to get worse, it is easy to see how Internet Psychiatry could help.

It is cost efficient, precise and all the tests made so far show that it is just as good as traditional treatments such as group or individual therapy.