Psychosocial treatments for adolescent depression

Clin Psychol Rev. 1999 Apr;19(3):329-42. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(98)00055-5.


Major Depressive Disorders affect between 2% and 5% of adolescents at any one point in time. Depression in adolescence is associated with serious psychosocial deficits and has negative effects on functioning during young adulthood. Starting with the pioneering work of Lenore Butler and her colleagues, many psychosocial interventions have been developed and studied, with generally positive results. On the basis of a meta-analysis of the existing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) studies we estimate an overall effect size of 1.27 and that 63% of patients show clinically significant improvement at the end of treatment. It seems reasonable to conclude that CBT has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for depressed adolescents. In this article we describe these interventions, most of which are meant to address the problems shown by depressed adolescents. The purpose of our article is to bring this literature to the attention of clinicians in a manner which quickly and clearly summarizes the key features of the interventions to make it easy for clinicians to take advantage of this wealth of information and to avail themselves of the existing resources. We conclude by suggesting future directions and several additional areas of application for adolescent depression treatments.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy / methods*