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Life-review benefits depressed adults, study shows


Depressed middle aged and older adults stand to benefit from a structured evaluation of their past, a study has shown.

The self-help method, titled life-review, aimed to aid the subjects in better understanding and accepting life events.

The research group from the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, picked out 174 participants, with a median age of about 57, providing the program to 58 of the subjects.

The life-review group received the book The Stories We Live By, written by Ernst Bohlmiejer, a co-author of the study, and completed a series of seven modules over the course of 10 weeks. The first four modules prompted participants to associate both a positive and a difficult memory with themes such as childhood, family, and friendship, while the last three modules asked them to sum up the experience and focus on the future.

Lead researcher Sanne Lamers said, “Life-review can help depressed people to feel better when they follow a course at home with a self-help book and counseling by e-mail. This is a new insight, because to date life-review was only studied as a face-to-face therapy, either individual or in a group.”

“Life-review not only works for older adults, but also for middle-aged adults of 40 years and over,” she said. “Life-review is mainly applied in older adults and our results show that it is relevant for other age groups as well.”

The World Health Organization says that worldwide more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression and that fewer than half of them receive effective treatment.

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