Objective: This trial examined the effects of both acute and maintenance cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for depressed adolescents.
Method: Adolescents with major depression or dysthymia (N = 123) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 eight-week acute conditions: adolescent group CBT (16 two-hour sessions); adolescent group CBT with a separate parent group; or waitlist control. Subsequently, participants completing the acute CBT groups were randomly reassigned to 1 of 3 conditions for the 24-month follow-up period: assessments every 4 months with booster sessions; assessments only every 4 months; or assessments only every 12 months.
Results: Acute CBT groups yielded higher depression recovery rates (66.7%) than the waitlist (48.1%), and greater reduction in self-reported depression. Outcomes for the adolescent-only and adolescent + parent conditions were not significantly different. Rates of recurrence during the 2-year follow-up were lower than found with treated adult depression. The booster sessions did not reduce the rate of recurrence in the follow-up period but appeared to accelerate recovery among participants who were still depressed at the end of the acute phase.
Conclusions: The findings, which replicate and expand upon a previous study, support the growing evidence that CBT is an effective intervention for adolescent depression.