Counseling Can Provide Long-Term Results For Teens With Depression

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Depression can be a terrible burden on a person of any age, but it can be especially difficult for teenagers already going through a tumultuous time in their life. Even worse, depression during a person’s formative years can have lasting implications for their entire life.

Thankfully, a new study suggests psychological counseling can provide long-term benefits and lead to better long-term outcomes for teens with depression.

“Depression can seriously impair people’s lives, and in many cases begins during their teenage years,” said Ian Goodyer, a professor at the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge in England. “If we can tackle it early on, evidence suggests we can reduce the chances of severe depression returning.”

In a press release, the university says psychological treatments are effective in the short term for approximately 70% of adolescents with depression. However, past research hasn’t tracked the long-term impact.

To determine the long-term effectiveness of psychological counseling, the researchers tracked 465 teens in England who had been clinically diagnosed with depression.

The participants were divided into three randomly-assigned groups for treatment. One group received cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) which focuses on changing patterns of thought. The second was given short-term psychoanalytic therapy which analyzes dreams, memories, and the subconscious. The last was administered a psychosocial intervention which used strategies for encouraging pleasurable activities and combating loneliness.

According to the results published in The Lancet Psychiatry, approximately 70% of the teens improved significantly no matter which treatment they were given. The participants who had shown improvement a 50% decline in depression symptoms, even a year after treatment had ended.

“This is very promising, and shows that at least two-thirds of teenagers may benefit from these psychiatric treatments, which in theory reduce the risk of recurrence,” study co-author Peter Fonagy said in the news release. He is a professor at the Anne Freud Center and University College London.

While the findings provide hope for the majority of teenagers who responded to treatment, it also raises questions about how to effectively treat the other 30% of teenagers who did show improvement over the course of the study.

“Of course, this means that there are still a substantial proportion of teenagers who do not benefit and we need to understand why this should be the case and find appropriate treatments to help them, too,” Fonagy added.

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