Depression study a passion

Psychologist Nick Ramondo.

PARTICIPANTS are needed for free group depression treatments as part of a UWA study looking into whether additional enhancements to widely-used therapy methods can improve outcomes.

Clinical psychologist Nick Ramondo has 40 years’ experience in the field and as part of a PhD study will provide the group therapy to people between 18 to 65 experiencing depressed moods.

Groups will be treated with the longstanding techniques of behavioural activation and cognitive therapy, along with different enhancements to study whether the outcomes can be improved by those additions. 

The group therapy format has very similar outcomes to individual treatment for depressed mood, but is best suited to certain types.

“It has pros and cons compared to individual treatment,” Mr Ramondo says. 

“Group treatment is pitched at a typical or ‘average’ depressed person’s profile which may not always be the best fit because there are countless symptom profiles under the broad umbrella of ‘major depression’ – more than 1000 permutations to be more exact.”

He says the group treatment format has some advantages: Providing a safe environment for “sharing one’s experiences with others; re-moralisation from support, encouragement and connections made with others in the group; the perspective that you are not unique in having depressed mood, [and] the ability to practice learning new skills alongside others in the same boat. 

“It’s been heartening to see some of the connections people make with one another.”

More socially-oriented people take to it quickly, but Mr Ramondo’s seen good results from shy people who stick to it. 

“Shyness is certainly a factor that some people struggle with. Despite this, if the shy person can still make it to the first few groups, their shyness dissipates to some degree because their perception of how tough it is going to be is often much worse than reality. 

“I can honestly say that some of the best improvements in group have been made by people who considered themselves extremely shy at the outset.”

The study runs April to June at the Robin Winkler Clinic on UWA’s Crawley campus, and starts very shortly so inquire via or call 6488 2644. 

All the data is collated on a group basis only, and individual participant information remains confidential. 

Mr Ramondo is running the trial as part of his PhD along with principal investigator Carmela Pestell.

Mr Ramondo says he decided to return to his former uni to pursue a PhD four decades after graduating because he’d long wanted “to contribute to the field of psychology beyond what I could do in private practice”.

He says “after researching topics for a couple of years, I decided I wanted to increase existing knowledge about improving psychological treatments for the number one presenting complaint to GPs around the world today”.

The World Health Organization has cited depression as the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide but very few people access help due to cost, accessibility and stigma. 

Mr Ramondo says: “I have never been interested in researching esoteric topics with little real-world applications just to get a title”, so he embarked on “researching how to improve psychological treatment and how to better maintain outcomes for depression”.


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