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Covid does not only affect those who become ill. Even those who do not even have any symptoms can feel great anxiety about getting sick or feeling bad because their social life is so limited. Feeling a certain anxiety is normal, but for some it grows into an unhelpful anxiety that they need help dealing with.
A problem in these pandemic times is that it can be difficult to get personal therapy. On the one hand, we should avoid personal meetings as much as we can, and on the other hand, it can be difficult to get an appointment with a therapist quickly. Then digital cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, can be a good alternative.
A research team at Karolinska Institutet has developed a digital self-help program based on CBT .
- The digital self-help program 'Managing anxiety in covid-19' is implemented in three weeks and is managed completely by the user without any contact with a therapist. The purpose of the online solution was primarily to create a scalable and easily accessible solution that does not use therapist resources from healthcare, says Tove Wahlund, psychologist and researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet and the study's first author.
The researchers divided 670 people into two groups, where one group received the digital CBT therapy directly and the other had to wait a while and thus function as a control group. Then the participants had to make a self-assessment of how much their anxiety decreased. Those who received digital CBT reduced their unhelpful worries by 40 percent. The corresponding figure for those in the control group was 17 percent.
- The participants who underwent the program also had significantly improved daily function at work and at home as well as less sleep problems and a lower degree of depressive symptoms, says Erik Andersson, associate professor and psychologist at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet and co-author of the study.
The self-help program is completely free and is available today via the 1177 care guide for those who live in the Stockholm Region. The plan is that the program will also be spread to other regions so that anyone who wants can get quick digital help against unhelpful concerns.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have previously successfully tested digital CBT for health anxiety , so the method seems to be effective against several different types of mental disorders.