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Most Depressed Teens Suffer From Return of Depression

Most Depressed Teens Suffer From Return of DepressionWhile depression remains on the rise amongst teens, effective treatment options remain elusive. A new study dampens expectations of successful depression treatment for teenagers — finding that depression returns in most teens who undergo treatment.

John Curry, Ph.D. of the Duke University Medical Center and colleagues studied 196 adolescents (86 males and 110 females) who participated in the Treatment for Adolescents With Depression Study (TADS).

The teens were randomly assigned to one of four short-term treatment interventions (medication with fluoxetine hydrochloride, cognitive behavioral therapy, a combination of the two or placebo) and followed up for five years.

Almost all participants (96.4 percent) recovered from their initial episode of depression during the follow-up period, including over 88 percent who recovered within two years.

Those who responded to a 12-week treatment session (short-term responders) were more likely to have recovered by two years (96.2 percent vs. 79.1 percent). However, two-year recovery was not associated with any particular type of treatment.

Of the 189 teens who recovered from depression, 88 (46.6 percent) experienced a recurrence.

“Contrary to our hypotheses, neither full response to short-term treatment nor treatment with a combination of fluoxetine and cognitive behavioral therapy reduced the risk of recurrence,” the authors write.

“However, short-term treatment non-responders were more likely to experience recurrence than full and partial responders. Females were significantly more likely to have a recurrence than males.”

Teens who also had an anxiety disorder were more likely to experience recurrence (61.9 percent vs. 42.2 percent of those without anxiety disorders). In addition, participants whose depression returned had higher scores on scales of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

“Our results reinforce the importance of modifying a short-term treatment that leads to partial response or non-response because these were associated with less likelihood of recovery in two years,” the authors write.

“The finding that recurrence rates increased significantly from two to three years after baseline suggests that recurrence prevention efforts, such as symptom or medication monitoring or cognitive behavioral therapy booster sessions may be of value beyond the [18-week] maintenance period included in TADS.”

Clinical depression affects approximately 6 percent of female teenagers and about 4.6 percent of male teens. Teenagers who suffer from depression also suffer from increased functional impairment, a risk of suicide and a higher risk of adult depression.

The article appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Source: JAMA

Most Depressed Teens Suffer From Return of Depression

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APA Reference
News Editor, P. (2018). Most Depressed Teens Suffer From Return of Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 1 Nov 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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