Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Adolescent Depression: Effects on Multiple Parameters

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Curtis, Steven E.
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cognitive; behavioral; treatment; adolescent; depression; multiple; parameters; Psychology
thesis / dissertation description
Clinical depression is the most frequently reported mental health problem for adolescents. Previously studied psychological treatment approaches for adolescent depression have recently been combined and packaged into a comprehensive psychoeducational intervention titled the Adolescent Coping With Depression Course (ACWDC). This study investigated whether treatment of clinically depressed adolescents using the ACWDC resulted in significant emotional, behavioral, and/or academic performance changes as reported by the adolescent, and observed by the parents and teachers.Nineteen clinically depressed adolescents were identified by screening 876 students in a local high school, using a multistage screening procedure. All selected subjects met the DSM III-R criteria of major depression or dysthymia. Identified subjects were randomly assigned to either a treatment or a waitlist-control condition. Subjects in the treatment condition received treatment while subjects in the waitlist-control condition received no treatment until after the completion of the study (eight weeks later). Treatment consisted of participation in the ACWDC, conducted in 12 two-hour teaching sessions held over an eight-week period after school. Outcome measures included a variety of self-report, teacher, and parent rating scales. A pretest-posttest randomized experimental design was utilized to examine treatment effects.At post-testing, subjects receiving treatment reported significantly greater decreases in depression and problem behaviors than subjects not receiving treatment. However, at post-testing there were no significant differences between treatment conditions on parent- and teacher-observed problem behaviors, or teacher-reported academic performance changes.Based on the results of this study and previous studies, participation by clinically depressed adolescents in the ACWDC does result in significant self-reported decreases in depression and problem behaviors. However, contrary to expectations, these self-reported changes have not been consistently observed by parents or teachers in reductions of problem behaviors at home or school, nor in significant teacher-observed academic improvement at school.