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Most TREATED Teens Recover From Depression

Posted Apr 02 2009 11:42am

6% of American teens - 2 million kids ages 12 to 18 - have clinical depression.

Only a fraction of those are diagnosed and treated.

These facts are particularly distressing because, when treated, a majority of teens show lasting improvements, though it may take several months for the benefits to appear.

Depression is a fact of life for millions of kids.

It is diagnosable and treatable.

Treatment works.

Consider the following:

Dr. Betsy D. Kennard of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas recently released the results from a study of 439 teens with major depression. Dr. Kennard found that while only one-quarter of those kids improved after the first 12 weeks of therapy, a full 60 percent were in remission by the 9-month mark.

Regarding long-term recovery, Kennard and her associates found that two-thirds of the teens who responded early to treatment remained well over the 9 months following their initial improvement. The same was true of 71 percent of the kids who initially took longer than 12 weeks to respond to therapy.

These findings illustrate the importance of not giving up, of continuing treatment, since remission rates get better over time.

The study also indicated that when teens participate in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) while taking antidepressant medications they improve more quickly than those on either treatment alone, warning that single-faceted therapy may slow recovery by 2 or 3 months.

Kennard and her colleagues also point out that despite the positive finding that a majority of teenagers got better, a substantial number were still clinically depressed after 9 months of treatment.

More research, they say, is needed to understand how to best help these teenagers — and to see whether recovery can come more quickly for others. It will also be important to understand why some teens who initially improve see their depression symptoms return.




Dr. Kennard’s study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Several researchers on the work have received funds from drug companies that market antidepressants.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, February 2009.
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