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Behavioral Program Can Help Prevent Teen Depression

But study finds program effectiveness declines if the teen has a currently depressed parent

TUESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- A cognitive behavioral prevention program can help prevent depression in teenagers who have a family history of the condition, according to a report in the June 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Judy Garber, Ph.D., of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues recruited 316 adolescents (ages 13 to 17 years) whose parents had a history of depression. The adolescents were randomized to an eight-week cognitive behavioral program (90-minute group sessions followed by six monthly continuation sessions) or usual care. Assessments were conducted at baseline, at the end of the program, and at six months, with follow-up to nine months.

The researchers found that the rate of depression was lower for the adolescents in the cognitive behavioral programs compared to those receiving usual care (21.4 versus 32.7 percent), and cognitive behavioral program participants reported fewer depression symptoms. For participants who did not currently have a depressed parent, the cognitive behavioral prevention program was more effective in preventing depression than usual care (11.7 versus 40.5 percent). However, the authors note, the program was ineffective preventing depression in adolescents who had a depressed parent at baseline.

"The cognitive behavioral prevention program had a significant prevention effect through the nine-month follow-up period based on both clinical diagnoses and self-reported depressive symptoms, but this effect was not evident for adolescents with a currently depressed parent," the authors conclude.

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