Given the rise in depression disorders in adolescence, it is important to develop and study depression prevention programs for this age group. The current study examined the efficacy of Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training (IPT-AST), a group prevention program for adolescent depression, in comparison to group programs that are typically delivered in school settings. In this indicated prevention trial, 186 adolescents with elevated depression symptoms were randomized to receive IPT-AST delivered by research staff or group counseling (GC) delivered by school counselors. Hierarchical linear modeling examined differences in rates of change in depressive symptoms and overall functioning from baseline to the 6-month follow-up assessment. Cox regression compared rates of depression diagnoses. Adolescents in IPT-AST showed significantly greater improvements in self-reported depressive symptoms and evaluator-rated overall functioning than GC adolescents from baseline to the 6-month follow-up. However, there were no significant differences between the two conditions in onset of depression diagnoses. Although both intervention conditions demonstrated significant improvements in depressive symptoms and overall functioning, results indicate that IPT-AST has modest benefits over groups run by school counselors which were matched on frequency and duration of sessions. In particular, IPT-AST outperformed GC in reduction of depressive symptoms and improvements in overall functioning. These findings point to the clinical utility of this depression prevention program, at least in the short-term. Additional follow-up is needed to determine the long-term effects of IPT-AST, relative to GC, particularly in preventing depression onset.
Keywords: Adolescents; Depression; Prevention.