Objectives: This investigation attempted to prevent unipolar depressive episodes in a sample of high school adolescents with an elevated risk of depressive disorder.
Method: Adolescents at risk for future depressive disorder by virtue of having elevated depressive symptomatology were selected with a two-stage case-finding procedure. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) was administered to 1,652 students; adolescents with elevated CES-D scores were interviewed with the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children. Subjects with current affective diagnoses were referred to nonexperimental services. The remaining 150 consenting subjects were considered at risk for future depression and randomized to either a 15-session cognitive group prevention intervention or an "usual care" control condition. Subjects were reassessed for DSM-III-R diagnostic status after the intervention and at 6- and 12-month follow-up points.
Results: Survival analyses indicated a significant 12-month advantage for the prevention program, with affective disorder total incidence rates of 14.5% for the active intervention, versus 25.7% for the control condition. No differences were detected for nonaffective disorders across the study period.
Conclusion: Depressive disorder can be successfully prevented among adolescents with an elevated future risk.