Skip to content

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Depressed Adolescents Need Longer Stretches of Therapy

By
WebMD Health News

Jan. 13, 2000 (Washington) -- Adolescents with depression experienced recurrences of their symptoms after 2 years of intensive therapy, regardless of which of three common 'talking' therapies were used, according to a new study. The findings, which appear in the most recent issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, show that therapy for depression needs to be ongoing and that family relationships must be addressed, one of the authors tells WebMD.

The study looked at the 2-year outcomes of 107 adolescents with major depression who were assigned to receive one of three types of therapy for 12-16 weeks: systemic behavioral family therapy, which focuses on changing family patterns of interacting; nondirective supportive therapy, which involves support without trying to change behavior and thought patterns; or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The latter "focuses on the relationship between feelings and behavior," David Brent, MD, a co-author of the study, tells WebMD, "and targets thinking patterns. People with depression may process information differently. They tend to focus on the negative. If you make people aware of those thinking patterns and try to correct them you can ameliorate [the depression]." Brent is a professor of child psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and is affiliated with the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The study builds on previously reported initial findings, which indicated that cognitive behavioral therapy was superior to family and supportive therapy in producing a faster rate of remission. Brent and his colleagues had hypothesized that the beneficial effect of cognitive behavioral therapy would last over a longer term, but that was not the case.

Based on these findings and others studies, "What I would say is that depression is a [long-term] disease, and it ought to be dealt with as a [long-term] disease," says Brent. Eighty percent of the adolescents in Brent's study recovered, 30% experienced a recurrence, regardless of therapy type, and 21% exhibited persistent depression during the 2-year follow-up period. This should prompt physicians to prepare parents and patients for the possibility of longer treatment stretches.

"You can't say for sure, but given that CBT worked better to begin with ... you probably need to have 4 to 6 monthly treatments to consolidate things. And you need to address the family difficulties head-on," Brent says.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
jennifer aniston
Slideshow
 
Measles virus
Article
sick child
Slideshow
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool