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Online self-help is getting more popular for treatment of stress, depression, burnout, or anxiety!

Self-help books

Self-help books have been successful since a lot time ago in the United States. More and more people are looking for solutions to their problems themselves. Some indeed find solutions in self-help books. Others buy the book and leave it on their nightstand for later.

Online self-help program to treat stress.

Online self-help provisional programs and online therapy offer new possibilities for you to help yourself to solve your problems. The advantage when compared to self-help books is that online self-help programs take your hand and guide you. This is only just so for some self-help programs, because sometimes it is difficult for people to find out whether a proper program is considered which will guide you in a medically and therapeutically approved way, or rather a statistical book which has been cut in pieces and is being sold as an online self-help program.

What should you pay attention to in order to pick a good online self-help program?

1. Who made the online self-help program?

First off, it is important to know who is behind the development of the program. This can be a random person without medical education, or was the program rather developed by professionals: doctors or a medical team with psychologists and doctors? Programs which were developed by so-called ‘experienced experts’ or ex-patients, should be frowned upon, too. An ex-patient can have found out how they themselves got better, but misses the medical insight to develop an ethically appropriate program. It is sometimes surprising how people without proper academic education pretend to be experts.

2. Does the online self-help program offer daily guidance?

Changing behavior so that you will not relapse afterward requires daily training of your new habits. Programs which guide you for a short time on a daily basis can help you to break out of your old habits and to develop new habits, which decrease chances of relapsing.

3. Does the concept of online healthcare have support from proven medical insights and scientific research?

The past decades, medicine and psychology have moved forward a lot. There are concepts of psychotherapy and in brain research which have already proven their worth for years in the medical world. Programs which are based on such medical concepts have large chances of being decent.
It is sometimes difficult to see what is good and what is not. Many amateurs try to make money from human misery which can cause stress. I hope these short insights can help you in your choice.

How does an online self-help program work?

There are 3 main ways of breaking out of an old, poor habit which causes stress, anxiety, or depression:

  1. new insights or thoughts lead to new behavior and feelings
  2. new behavior can be learned which reduce negative thoughts and feelings
  3. new (less painful) feelings help to see things differently and to replace other, less healthy behavior.

A good online self-help program will help you to learn to influence these 3 factors. Some programs only limit themselves to just changing your negative thoughts, or only teaching you techniques to break out of negative feelings, or just changing your behavior. These programs can work, too, yet they are a little less flexible when it comes to altering itself to suit every type of personality.
So the program in itself does not heal. It is not a medical treatment. It is a good supplement for a medical treatment. But because you learn to change your negative thoughts, feelings, or behavior, issues of most people are solved, or the complaints reduce significantly. And for most people this is enough, and more strict medical intervention is no longer needed. This is something which is best discussed with your doctor.

Self-test in stress, burnout, anxiety, or depression

Would you like to know to what extent stress, tension, anxiety, or even depressed feelings play a role in your life? Then you can easily test this by filling our simple test with 21 short questions.

Paul Koeck, MD