NICE recommends trial for digital therapy for adults with depression

People with mild to moderate depression could get help faster by using the online programme

Published on 23rd January 2018

A digital therapy programme could help adults with depression get faster access to help, the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence has urged.

The online and mobile programme Deprexis should be tested out in NHS services, said NICE.

Dr Paul Chrisp, programme director of the medical and technologies programme at NICE, said: “Deprexis is a digital therapy that could help speed up access to care and free up therapist time to treat more people. This new programme, funded by NHS England, has meant that we can now open up access to innovative therapies by recommending them for real-world evidence study. Our aim is to provide evidence-based advice so services can make informed decisions and people have more flexible options to treat anxiety and depression.”

Deprexis, which can be used on any device which has internet access such as smart phones and tablets, works on the principles of Cognitive Beahvioural Therapy. It supports people with depression to assess their own situation and find coping mechanisms. NICE says Deprexis could be an effective alternative therapy for adults with mild to moderate depression.

In advice published to NHS England, NICE is recommending that the therapy is trialled for up to two years in at least two of the specialist services that were set up to improve access to psychological therapies.

During the trial people can log on to Deprexis at any time and complete modules of CBT. While users of Deprexis will be guided by a therapist, the online format means that people do not have to attend therapy sessions in person.

The therapist can go on and assess work carried out by users and to see how they are feeling. They can also be alerted if they feel the users’ symptoms are deteriorating. The therapist and user can send messages to each other using the programme.

The cost of Deprexis in the UK is not yet agreed. The trial will be funded by NHS England.

NICE is assessing up to 14 digital therapies to help treat anxiety and depression as part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

NICE has also published separate advice on OCD-NET, an online programme to manage obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). NICE’s experts concluded that the programme required further development before it would be suitable for a trial on the NHS. The advice means that the makers of OCD-NET can apply for funding from NHS England to improve the digital therapy.



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