Thursday, December 07, 2006

TO READ: Reading Books as a Depression Treatment
Bibliotherapy, also known as "guided self-help," has been studied for several years as a treatment for mild to moderate depression. In bibliotherapy, people with depression are assigned to read a self-help book such as David Burns' Feeling Good, instead of, or in addition to, treatment with psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medicines. The results are impressive.

Numerous controlled studies have been conducted and, in at least some, researchers have concluded that a four-week self-study period with an appropriate book was as effective as individual psychotherapy, participation in a cognitive behavioral therapy group, or taking an antidepressant -- and bibliotherapy worked faster. In a three-year follow up study, the beneficial effects of bibliotherapy were sustained.

Can reading really alleviate depression? There are some specifics to keep in mind. The book must contain real information on how to recover from depression. Typically the books used CBT-based approaches. (Peter Lewinsohn's book Control Your Depression was also found useful; Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning led to no improvement.) In some studies the reading was conducted between psychotherapy sessions that reinforced the importance of the books and their exercises. Also, bibliotherapy has not been applied to severely depressed patients.

As you may suspect, bibliotherapy provides a vastly more economic way to treat mild to moderate depression. Some researchers have suggested that conducting bibliotherapy on the Internet may be effective, and cost effective, as well.

For more info, see: Smith, et al, (1997), J. consult. clin. psychol., 65, 2.
The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2005, p. B1.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Beth- great site...very informative and most interesting!
It was so good meeting you on Tuesday. I did have a difficutl time hearing those folks around the table, even with two hearing aids. Darn.

Most of my writings, regarding the depression, have been in the form of poetry.
I would like to write an article though,titled, "Teach Your Child How to be Angry." I truly feel that anger is the key element to depression and to the violence in our world.
Carmen Lee