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New Program May Help Teens at High Risk for Depression
Date:6/2/2009

Behavioral approach was less effective if parent was depressed during child's treatment

TUESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who face a high risk of depression because their parents struggle with the disease can be helped with a behavioral therapy program geared to help such children manage their depressive tendencies, a new study suggests.

However, the approach appears to be less successful among those children whose parents are actually in the midst of a depressive episode while the treatment is being offered.

"The bottom line is that depression in adolescents can be prevented among kids who are at risk," said study author Judy Garber, director of the developmental psychopathology research training program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "But this finding is consistent with other studies that have found that children who are in treatment for depression do not do as well if their parents are currently depressed."

Garber and her colleagues report their findings in the June 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The authors noted that only about one-quarter of depressed youth in the United States currently receive treatment for their condition.

Early behavioral intervention, they added, has previously demonstrated some success at preventing the onset of adolescent depression in the first place -- an objective they said is important given that adolescent depression significantly raises the risk for chronic depression during adulthood.

In fact, prior research suggests that children of depressed parents face a two to three times greater risk of developing depression themselves.

With this raised risk in mind, Garber and her colleagues focused on the prevention potential of a "cognitive behavioral prevention program" -- which they stress is a treatment approach that is distinct from therapy -- among 316 high-risk adolescents between the
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