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