teen depression returnsAccording to a study that will appear in the March 2011 print issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, depression recurs in almost half of adolescent patients.  The greatest predictors of a return to depression included:

  • Being female.  According to the report even more than half of females experienced a recurrence of depression.
  • Being in short-term treatment who did not respond well to treatment.
  • Having a co-occurring anxiety disorder (61.9% had a recurrence)

Although most depressed teens who receive treatment do recover from their initial episode of depression (96.4 percent), the high experience of recurrence points to a need for improved therapies.  Recurrence often occurred two or more years after the initial experience.

According to the authors of the study, “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.”

Because girls were significantly more likely to experience a recurrence, there is a clear need to understand and reduce the vulnerabilities for teenage girls to become depressed.

There are many treatments out there for depressed teens.  This study focused on medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and a combination of the two.  The study did not include mindfulness or Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Understanding and providing better treatment to adolescents is essential.  Teenage depression is associated with impairments in daily functioning, risk of suicide and risk of adult depression.

If you’ve had experience with a teenager who received treatment for depression, please comment below.  I’d love to hear your stories of what treatments worked and what did not.