Self-Management Training May Improve Depression

A woman holds her head in her handsA self-management support service that offers depression management skills and peer support may improve symptoms of chronic depression, according to a new study published in Psychiatric Services. On average, 8% of Americans experience depression in any two-week period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization reports that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, as 350 million people of all ages face depression each year.

Training to Overcome Depression

Researchers enrolled more than 300 chronically depressed participants across five Seattle clinics. Half received what researchers believed to be standard depression treatment, such as medication, psychotherapy, neither, or both. The other half received the same types of care but also participated in a self-management program.

The supplemental program lasted for 18 months and included regular phone or in-person contact with a care coordinator. Participants were coached in ways to manage their depression and taught self-management skills. Participants also enrolled in a cognitive behavioral group program led by a licensed therapist and a trained peer support specialist. Peer specialists had faced depression themselves and had completed a five-day training session at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Results of Depression Self-Management Techniques

Though the program acknowledged the frustrations participants had previously experienced with treatment, it also emphasized that recovery from depression is possible. Participants were encouraged to set and work toward goals with an emphasis on leading a life that they found happy and fulfilling.

Researchers assessed both groups for depression at the end of the trial, measuring their mood, depression symptoms, and the severity of their depression. The group that participated in self-management training showed overall improvement greater than that of the control group, which received only standard depression treatment.

Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC, a New Jersey therapist who regularly works with people who have depression, says this sort of support can prove invaluable on the recovery journey.

“Overcoming depression doesn’t mean you never suffer from it again,” she said. “What it does mean is that if you do, you have a network in place of people you can reach out to for support, as well as concrete tools that have proven successful at combating depression. Knowing there are people you can connect with to remind you of those tools and knowing you are not completely isolated or alone in your experience are key components to healing and emotional well-being.”


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  • Tabitha


    September 2nd, 2015 at 11:09 AM

    So this is done in addition to the traditional treatment, so in essence a supplement to treatment that is already being given. I am all for that. Programs like this could be the new standard bearer for what is actually later seen as the traditional treatment method and can make patients feel better because they see that something that one felt so out of control and unmanageable, they actually do have some control over.

  • reese


    September 4th, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    seems to be a little demeaning to those who actually suffer from depression

  • Grant O

    Grant O

    September 5th, 2015 at 11:28 AM

    I understand that there are always going to be ways that you can help yourself; but when you are living with something that is as serious as depression it is also good to know that this does not have to be something that you only manage and deal with on your own. There are so many wonderful providers who are there to help you through this and yes, self management could be a step in the right direction so that you no longer feel that this illness has that control over you. But isn’t it also nice to know that there are others who are also specifically trained to help you through this as well?

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