BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Health care providers have few alternatives for youth depression other than antidepressants. We examined whether brief cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a viable alternative in primary care.
METHODS: A total of 212 adolescents aged 12 to 18 with major depression who had recently declined or quickly discontinued new antidepressant treatment were randomized to self-selected treatment as usual (TAU) control condition or TAU plus brief individual CBT. Blinded evaluators followed youth for 2 years. The primary outcome was time to major depression diagnostic recovery.
RESULTS: CBT was superior to the control condition on the primary outcome of time to diagnostic recovery from major depression, with number needed to treat from 4 to 10 across follow-up. A similar CBT advantage was found for time to depression diagnosis response, with number needed to treat of 5 to 50 across time points. We observed a significant advantage for CBT on many secondary outcomes over the first year of follow-up but not the second year. Cohen’s d effect sizes for significant continuous measures ranged from 0.28 to 0.44, in the small to medium effect range. Most TAU health care services did not differ across conditions, except for psychiatric hospitalizations, which occurred at a significantly higher rate in the control condition through the first year of follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: Observed results were consistent with recent meta-analyses of CBT for youth depression. The initial year of CBT superiority imparted an important clinical benefit and may reduce the risk of future recurrent depression episodes.
- Accepted February 2, 2016.
- Copyright © 2016 by the American Academy of Pediatrics