MONDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Although almost all teens who were treated for major depression initially recovered, about half ended up suffering a relapse within five years, a new study found.
And those recurrences were more likely to strike girls than boys, the researchers found.
"We've known for a long time that people are going to revert back to depression -- that 50 percent would relapse even though they had recovered. I don't think that surprised many people," said Keith Young, vice chair for research in the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Young was not involved with the study.
Study lead author John Curry, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, said the findings point up the "need to develop treatments that will prevent recurrence of second depression."
Although some of those treatments may be coming down the pipeline, Young emphasized that the new study provides a clue as to what clinicians could be doing better.
"People on short-term treatment programs that didn't really follow through didn't do as well in the long run. Big studies like this give clinicians justification for really pushing people to stay in the programs," said Young. "It's like when you're taking an antibiotic, you have to take it all even if you [start] feeling better. The idea is to treat adolescent depression aggressively until all symptoms are gone and the person is better."
The findings are published in the Nov. 1 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
According to background information in the article, almost 6 percent of adolescent girls and 4.6 percent of boys suffer from major depressive disorder.
Although studies have looked at the short-term outcomes of treatment (which tend to be good), less is known about what happens over the longer term
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