CBT Helps Prevent Depression in At-Risk Adolescents

Research from a randomized clinical trial recently published in JAMA Psychiatry indicates that group cognitive-behavioral prevention (CBP) may help prevent depression in at-risk adolescents. Participants included 316 adolescents with current or past elevated depressive symptoms and whose parents experienced current and/or prior depression. They were randomly assigned to either the CBP group or care as usual (CU). The CBP intervention consisted of eight weeks of weekly 90-minute group sessions, as well as six monthly 90-minute booster sessions. Cognitive restructuring and problem solving were emphasized throughout the course of treatment.

Participants were assessed pre-intervention, after the acute intervention, after the booster sessions, and at one year (21 months) and 2 years (33 months) post intervention. Results showed that adolescents in the CBP group had significantly fewer onsets of depressive episodes than the care as usual group. However, parental depression significantly moderated the effect of the intervention. That is, when parents were depressed at baseline, average onset of depression between the CBP group and usual care did not differ. These results indicate that CBPs may be an evidence-based alternative to preventing depression, and that improvements are needed to strengthen the CBP intervention particularly when active parental depression is involved.

Beardslee, W. R., Brent, D. A., Weersing, V. R., Clarke, G. N., Porta, G., Hollon, S. D., … & Garber, J. (2013). Prevention of Depression in At-Risk Adolescents: Longer-term Effects. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.295

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