Medication switch, cognitive therapy may help teens with severe depression

June 1, 2010

Switching medications or combining medicine with cognitive behavior therapy eliminated symptoms of depression in more than one-third of teenagers who were resistant to treatment, new findings show.

Switching medications or combining medicine with cognitive behavior therapy eliminated symptoms of depression in more than one-third of teenagers who were resistant to treatment, according to findings from a multicenter study published online May 17 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The study, led by University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers, showed that teenagers who experienced symptom improvement after just 3 months of treatment also maintained the positive improvements.

Participants (n=334) aged 12 to 18 years exhibited symptoms indicative of moderate to severe major depressive disorder. About 55% of the teenagers in the study experienced improvements when they switched to another antidepressant and tried cognitive behavioral therapy for 3 months. More specifically, after 3 months, about 41% of participants showed improvement after changing to either a different selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or to venlafaxine.