Peer support helps depressed patients improve

By Staff Writer

Mental health and drug rehab facilities that provide their depression patients with opportunities to engage with others who are struggling with similar problems may be an effective option for severely depressed individuals. A new study from University of Michigan researchers has shown that peer support programs can be a major benefit for such people.

The researchers examined the results of 10 previously published studies that looked at peer support groups for depression. The investigation showed that these types of programs generally result in a reduction in depressive symptoms among their participants.

Paul Pfeiffer, who led the study, said that peer support programs are often not incorporated into standard depression therapy. However, his team’s findings showed that depressed patients who do participate in these groups generally feel less isolated, have less stress, are more comfortable sharing health information and feel as though they have a role model.

The researchers said that adding a peer support element to standard rehab treatment programs for depression could be an effective and low-cost way to improve the care of the disease.