Research conducted by the University of New South Wales has recorded a dramatic reduction in both depression and suicidal thoughts in patients who participated in a study involving internet cognitive behavior therapy.


“Web-based services for people with depression have been cautious about treating people who have suicidal thoughts but this study shows intervention for these people is successful,” lead author Professor Gavin Andrews said.


The study involved over 300 patients being prescribed an internet-based cognitive behavior therapy course for depression by clinicians over the internet. The research found significant reduction in suicidal thoughts following the six-lesson program, regardless of sex and age.


“A clinical audit of how primary care practitioners use the depression course showed that half the people who met criteria for depression and were prescribed the course had thought that they would be ‘better off dead’ in the previous 14 days,” UNSW Medicine’s Professor Andrews says.


“When they completed the course 10 weeks later, half of the 300 people no longer met criteria for depression. Half of the people who had thought they would be ‘better off dead’ no longer thought that way.”


This is the first study to demonstrate this association in primary care, the authors say.


“At present, it is routine to exclude patients with frequent suicidal thoughts from participating in internet cognitive behaviour therapy. Given that suicidal thoughts are an integral part of depression, this research shows that there is a rational basis for inclusion of people with suicidal ideas,” they say.

People interested in participating in research should go to to register.


The course can be found here