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.