Depression is a major public health problem, affecting hundreds of millions of people across the globe. The personal suffering of patients and their families is enormous and the economic costs associated with depression are vast. There are effective treatments, but they do not always work. Most people suffering from depression do not respond to the first treatment they get. On the population level, current treatments can only reduce the disease burden of depression by about one third, even in optimal conditions where everyone with depression receives an evidence-based treatment (Andrews et al., 2004).


If we want to reduce the burden of depression at the population level, there are three possibilities.


  1. One is to prevent depression altogether.
  2. The second is to make treatments more effective.
  3. And the third is to increase the uptake of treatment.

In this blog, I will focus on if and how digital interventions can improve the uptake of treatments for depression


Andrews G, Issakidis C, Sanderson K, Corry J, Lapsley H (2004). Utilising survey data to inform public policy: comparison of the cost-effectiveness of treatment of ten mental disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry 184, 526-533.


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Cuijpers P, Heim E, Abi Ramia J, Burchert S, Carswell K, Cornelisz I, Knaevelsrud C, Noun P, van Klaveren C, van’t Hof E, Zoghbi E, van Ommeren M, El Chammay R (2022). Effects of a WHO guided digital health intervention for depression in Syrian refugees in Lebanon: A randomized controlled trial. Plos Medicine, 19, e1004025.


Cuijpers P, Heim E, Abi Ramia J, Burchert S, Carswell K, Cornelisz I, Knaevelsrud C, Noun P, van Klaveren C, van’t Hof E, Zoghbi E, van Ommeren M, El Chammay R (2022). A Guided Digital Health Intervention for Depression in Lebanon: Randomized Trial. Evidence Based Mental Health, 25, e34–e40.


Cuijpers P, Noma H, Karyotaki E, Cipriani A, Furukawa T (2019). Individual, group, telephone, self-help and internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for adult depression; A network meta-analysis of delivery methods. JAMA Psychiatry, 76, 700-707.


Cuijpers P, Quero S, Noma H, Ciharova M, Miguel C, Karyotaki E, Cipriani A, Cristea I, Furukawa TA(2021). Psychotherapies for depression: a network meta-analysis covering efficacy, acceptability and long-term outcomes of all main treatment types. World Psychiatry, 20, 283-293


Cuijpers P, Schuurmans J (2007). Self-help interventions for anxiety disorders: An overview. Current Psychiatry Reports, 9, 284-290.


Karyotaki E, Araya R, Kessler RC, Waqas A, Bhana A, Rahman A, Matsuzaka CT, Miguel C, Lund C, Garman EC, Nakimuli-Mpungu E, Petersen I, Naslund JA, Schneider M, Sikander S, Jordans MJD, Abas M, Slade P, Walters S, Brugha TS, Furukawa TA, Amanvermez Y, Mello MF, Wainberg ML, Cuijpers P, Patel V (2022). Association of Task-Shared Psychological Interventions With Depression Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry, 79, 430–443.


Karyotaki E, Efthimiou O, Miguel C, Maas genannt Bermpohl F, Furukawa TA, Cuijpers P for the Individual Patient Data Meta-Analyses for Depression (IPDMA-DE) Collaboration (2021). Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression; An Individual Patient Data Network Meta-Analysis. JAMA Psychiatry, 78, 361-371.


Papola D, Ostuzzi G, Tedeschi F, Gastaldon C, Purgato M, Del Giovane C, Pompoli A, Pauley D, Karyotaki E, Sijbrandij M, Furukawa TA, Cuijpers P, Barbui C (2023). CBT treatment delivery formats for panic disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychological Medicine, epub ahead of print.


Schleider J, Weisz J (2018). A single‐session growth mindset intervention for adolescent anxiety and depression: 9‐month outcomes of a randomized trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59(2), 160-170.


World Health Organization (WHO) (2022). World mental health report; Transforming mental health for all. WHO: Geneva.