December 22, 2011

Fighting Childhood Depression

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Depression group therapy programs for kids prove effective

(dailyRx News) Kids can have more than a down day; more and more information is coming forth to show the seriousness of childhood depression.

An episode of depression in childhood increases the risk of future depression and mental illness, so preventing early depressive disorder is crucial. New research shows that group prevention methods are effective.

"Talk to a therapist if your child shows depressive symptoms."

Sally Merry, M.D., a pediatric psychiatrist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, led a research team that analyzed 53 studies on adolescent depression prevention, in various countries. The total number of participants in all the studies was 14,406 ranging in age from five to 19.

None of them showed any symptoms of depression when they began to participate in prevention programs.

The analysis showed that the youth who participated in prevention programs were significantly less likely to have a depressive disorder in the following year than youth who did not participate in such programs.

The effect was the same regardless of the type of prevention program; for example, interventions targeted toward a specific group, such as boys, showed the same preventative effects as other programs.

Most of the prevention programs included components of cognitive behavioral therapy, and some also had stress reduction techniques or methods for maintaining optimism and self-efficacy.

Merry said the findings are important and encouraging because of the widespread prevalence of depression.

By 2002, depression was the second greatest cause of disability in developed countries, and first in many developing nations. Depression among young people has a marked negative impact throughout their course of life and is associated with self-harm and suicide.

"Preventing its onset would be an important advance in public health," the study reported, in findings published at The Cochrane Library in December 2011.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
December 20, 2011

Last Updated:
December 22, 2011