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“Online CBT gave me new tools”

Name: Katarina Schmidt Berg

Age: 71 years old

Occupation: Retired former deputy director of the Government Offices of Sweden.

“Towards the end of my career, I suffered from depression brought on by exhaustion. I took antidepressants and went to meetings about relaxation and diet and slowly got better. When I felt that I was ready, I took on a demanding task, one that turned out to be too demanding. This resulted in another period of depression, something which contributed to me retiring six months early.

Following retirement, I stopped taking the antidepressants for good. I then felt very dejected and spent a lot of time sitting at home. I got two dogs so I would get out, but instead I felt locked in and tied to them. I had also got it into myself that I should rest a lot, so I spent half the day resting.

In autumn 2014, I saw an advertisement in the paper for research subjects for a study concerning online CBT. I was interviewed to see if I was suitable for the study, which I was.

During the six-month-long study, I had to read pretty long informative texts, create timetables for the week ahead and plan tasks, exercise and social activities ahead of each element. At the beginning I found it very difficult and thought, how am I going to cope with this? But these things weren't actually particularly difficult. What was really good was that there was a person I could write to and who responded in an encouraging way. My first task was to not go and lie down in the mornings. Then I had to schedule annoying things that had not been done such as taking out the pile of newspapers or having an annoying telephone conversation. And when I had done something annoying, I was allowed to give myself a reward and go out for a coffee or something else I think is fun. It was also nice to see that things I'd been meaning to do for a while disappeared one after another. The little things added up to something pretty big. And after a while, I was able to look at myself and think, God, what was I doing?

Now I feel that I have been given the tools to avoid being affected again.”

As told to Fredrik Hedlund, first published in the magazine "Medicinsk Vetenskap" no 2, 2016.