Efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed adolescents

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999 Jun;56(6):573-9. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.56.6.573.


Background: Psychotherapy is widely used for depressed adolescents, but evidence supporting its efficacy is sparse.

Methods: In a controlled, 12-week, clinical trial of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents (IPT-A), 48 clinic-referred adolescents (aged 12-18 years) who met the criteria for DSM-III-R major depressive disorder were randomly assigned to either weekly IPT-A or clinical monitoring. Patients were seen biweekly by a "blind" independent evaluator to assess their symptoms, social functioning, and social problem-solving skills. Thirty-two of the 48 patients completed the protocol (21 IPT-A-assigned patients and 11 patients in the control group).

Results: Patients who received IPT-A reported a notably greater decrease in depressive symptoms and greater improvement in overall social functioning, functioning with friends, and specific problem-solving skills. In the intent-to-treat sample, 18 (75%) of 24 patients who received IPT-A compared with 11 patients (46%) in the control condition met recovery criterion (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score < or =6) at week 12.

Conclusions: These preliminary findings support the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of 12 weeks of IPT-A in acutely depressed adolescents in reducing depressive symptoms and improving social functioning and interpersonal problem-solving skills. Because it is a small sample consisting largely of Latino, low socioeconomic status adolescents, further studies must be conducted with other adolescent populations to confirm the generalizability of the findings.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Patient Selection
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Research Design
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Class
  • Treatment Outcome