Initial results from a pilot study conducted by HMRI researchers based at the University of Newcastle suggest that there is an unmet treatment need for people suffering from depression and co-existing drug and alcohol problems.
The pilot results are from the first year of the three year SHADE study into the effectiveness of using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, a rapid, targeted, drug-free treatment option for depression.
Frances Kay-Lambkin from the research team at the Centre for Mental Health Studies says, "People with depression often respond to everyday situations with a negative interpretation. Symptoms of depression also include low mood, loss of interest in activities, people or places and loss of energy which makes them feel terrible about themselves and the world they live in. Many people then turn to alcohol and drugs for temporary relief."
"SHADE specifically targets those interpretations that people with depression have about the world. It tries to make people aware of how depression colours their view of situations and encourages them to develop alternative ways of thinking and responding to situations."
"Our initial results suggest that the SHADE study is tapping into an unmet need in the community, and may be providing access to treatments for depression that might not otherwise be so readily available."
"Among the pilot participants in our study, 54% had received no previous treatment for their depression, despite the fact people had been experiencing symptoms from as young as 12 years of age."
"This is a concern given the evidence suggests that depression is treatable for most people using a range of psychological and pharmacological strategies. These people had been suffering for an extended period of time."
"This possibly also suggests that the majority of our participants had been suffering in silence, relying solely on family members, friends and their own coping mechanisms for support."
"On average they were using alcohol and/or cannabis on a daily basis, perhaps as a way of helping them to cope with their depressive symptoms. Amphetamine use was also common, with people using on average one to two times per week," says Frances.
In response to the pilot results, the Centre for Mental Health Studies is now seeking more participants for a larger scale trial of the SHADE treatments which is supported by a $660, 000 grant from the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation.