Major depressive disorder in adolescence: a brief review of the recent treatment literature

Can J Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;48(9):600-6. doi: 10.1177/070674370304800906.


Objective: Treating adolescents with depression remains a major clinical and public health challenge. Because of the serious morbidity and mortality associated with adolescent major depressive disorder (MDD), there is a need to review the published literature on treatment efficacy to establish effective treatment choices for these adolescents.

Method: We reviewed the recent literature on the treatment of MDD in adolescents using the Medline and PsycINFO computerized databases.

Results: Results of open studies of MDD treatment in adolescents suggested therapeutic efficacy; however, later, better-controlled studies are more difficult to interpret, owing to the high rate of improvement with placebo. Currently, there is limited evidence of robust, effective therapeutic interventions in children and in adolescent depressive disorders.

Conclusions: Despite limitations, current findings from studies investigating selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), cognitive-behavioural therapy, and interpersonal therapy generally support these treatments as safe and effective for adolescent MDD. Still, further investigations into these treatments for adolescent depression are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Secondary Prevention


  • Antidepressive Agents