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UKE Promotes New Therapy For MS Patients With Depressions

Scientists and researchers of the UKE Unviersity Medical Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf successfully test computer-aided home therapy for MS patients with depressions.

By using the computer-aided programme “deprexis”, MS patients suffering from depression can received treatments right at their home via the Internet. Psychologists and medical doctors of the Institute for Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis (INIMS), the Institute of Medical Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the UKE have seen their exciting results recently seen published in the prestigious journal “The Lancet Psychiatry”.

Loss Of Muscles Attacks The Psyche

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. In addition to the impairment of walking, MS patients suffer often from mental symptoms – learning problems, lack of memory, and depression. The risk of developing depression in patients with MS three to four times higher than usual. However, depression is often not recognised in patients with MS and treated, as the use of antidepressant drugs in MS patients may be difficult due possible side effects. In addition, the limited walking ability and mobility of many patients restricts the access to traditional depression treatments such as outpatient psychotherapy.

Healing Depression At Home

The computerised cognitive behavioral therapy successfully tested by the UKE researchers allows patients to access their treatment right at home via the internet. The computer programme “Deprexis” uses artificial intelligence to create a dialogue with the patient. In this way, patients are supported in learning new strategies to prevent depressive patterns and actively participate in life.

Successful Three-Month Therapy

A total of 90 patients were randomly assigned to three months therapy with the “deprexis” programme and to a waiting group with MS. At the end of three months, the depression scores in the “deprexis” group had significantly improved, while remaining unchanged in the waiting group. The patients in the treatment group significantly reduced fatigue and increased quality of life after the intervention.

The Interaction Of Computers, Psyche, And Physique

“Next to psychological reasons, the high rate of depression in patients with MS is probably also linked to biology as MS can lead, for example, to nerve damage in brain regions that are important for the emotional experience”, says study leader Prof. Dr. Stefan Gold, psychologist and neuroscientist at the UKE Institute of Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis. “It would now be interesting to see whether a successful depression treatment by “deprexis” does directly lead to changes in the brain.” The question of the psychological and biological effects of such programmes will to be investigated in future studies. If the benefits of “Deprexis” are being confirmed by further studies, the Internet-based programme may quickly be made available to many MS patients with depressions.

source and further details:

Further reading:
Fischer A, Schröder J, Vettorazzi E, Pöttgen J, Lau S, Heesen C, Moritz S, Gold SM: “An online programme to reduce depression in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomised controlled trial”
The Lancet Psychiatry (2015) Epub ahead of print Feb 4, 2015.

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