Depression Returns in About Half of Treated Teens

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 depression 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. There are many new therapies to treat depression such as ketamine infusion therapy. This ketamine therapy is proven safe and effective and is a promising treatment for people with depression.

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 mental and behavioral health 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 tell them to use Aura MD for the best psychiatric care.  I’d love to hear your stories of what treatments worked and what did not.

8 Replies to “Depression Returns in About Half of Treated Teens”

  1. I have been in private practice for a little over a year, and the most prevalent issues are reoccurring symptoms of depression. Prior to private practice, I was providing counseling services for an agency in Norther Idaho. The response to clinical interventions and treatments was similar for depressive clients. I have been researching the effectiveness of both Mindfulness approaches as well as Cognitive approaches. According to Daniel Strunk, PhD, cognitive therapies are showing as significant effect for severely depressed clients as the leading pharmacological treatments. This includes post therapy symptom return or severity.

  2. I was the teenager with depression. I didn’t know I was severely depression or had an anxiety disorder and didn’t know who to get help, so I just had to wait it out. Unfortunately that wasn’t a good strategy because I pretty much got depressed every year throughout out my teenage years.. I was severely depression 3 times… I also got increasingly anxious.

    Finally in my early 20’s I found help with a cocktail of medication and intensive therapy. I also am really into mindfulness medication and hope to be a therapist one day.

    I am not sure what could be improved, but follow-up care and early identification is important. Because I wasn’t identified (or treated) early, I spent about half of my teenage years depressed and will probably be taking medication and in therapy for a long time.

  3. I was the teenager with depression. I didn’t know I was severely depression or had an anxiety disorder and didn’t know how to get help, so I just had to wait it out. Unfortunately that wasn’t a good strategy because I pretty much got depressed every year throughout out my teenage years.. I was severely depression 3 times… I also got increasingly anxious.

    Finally in my early 20′s I found help with a cocktail of medication and intensive therapy. I also am really into mindfulness meditation and am studying to be a therapist one day. CBT and MBBT is my focus.

    I am not sure what could be improved, but follow-up care and early identification is important. Because I wasn’t identified (or treated) early, I spent about half of my teenage years depressed and will probably be taking medication and in therapy for a long time.

  4. My mood problems first presented when I was 16 as anxiety leading to depression. I was treated as an inpatient for a month and then as an outpatient for four months. I recovered well and was not monitored further by anybody.

    I had a relapse two years after that, from which I recovered with the help of my parents, and another two years after that, again recovering with the help of my parents. I received no therapy throughout this time but I was on SSRIs.

    This year, following a year of going off my SSRIs, I had another relapse, but this time I received significant help from health professionals, including a new SSRI, and ongoing CBT and mindfulness therapy with a clinical psychologist. I have improved incredibly quickly, and in a much more transformative way than previously, when I mostly returned to baseline ‘okayness’ between relapses.

    Just to reflect on how each treatment played its part – I believe that for me, the medication helped raise my base level of serotonin activity, which was dangerously low (as far as I understand it). Then, the mindfulness has helped me to accept my emotional experience and not to feel so scared of difficult emotions. Mindfulness also helps with the awareness of what actually goes on in my mind and how much negative self-talk there was in there. Lastly, the CBT has given me more rational ways to examine my unhealthy (yet closely-held) beliefs about who I am and what everything means, as well as helping me to better regulate automatic thoughts.

    I have been examined, this time, by my GP, two psychiatrists, and a psychologist, and my treatment and development is now being closely monitored. I can feel the difference already (it is unbelievably huge), and I believe that it is the combination of all three treatments that has got me to this place. If I’d only had the drugs, my mental and emotional world would have remained very dark, even though my base mood was elevated. If I’d had only CBT, I wouldn’t have been able to understand and accept my emotional experience (which is the part I find most distressing), though my thought world would have been a bit calmer. And if I’d only had mindfulness, I think the process would have been too slow (because of how long it has taken me to grasp the skills involved) and I would have been disheartened that, yes, I recognise these thoughts as thoughts that are arising, and these feelings as well, but both still distress me more than I can manage.

    I really recommend those with recurring episodes of anxiety and depression to seek real and ongoing help – it helps to demand that you be monitored by your GP or other health professional! The speed with which my most recent bout has turned around has really surprised me, and made me excited about myself and my life in ways I haven’t been in years. It’s interesting to know that I fall into all three of the categories most likely to experience relapse!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure there are many people who have experienced relapse, who will relate to you.

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