Treatment-resistant depression in adolescents: Is the addition of cognitive behavioral therapy of benefit?

Sarah E. Hetrick, Georgina R. Cox, Sally N. Merry

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Many young people with major depression fail first-line treatments. Treatmentresistant depression has various definitions in the literature but typically assumes nonresponse to medication. In young people, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the recommended firstline intervention, thus the definition of treatment resistance should be expanded. Therefore, our aim was to synthesize the existing evidence of any interventions for treatment-resistant depression, broadly defined, in children and adolescents and to investigate the effectiveness of CBT in this context. Methods: We used Cochrane Collaboration methodology, with electronic searches of Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, and the Cochrane Depression Anxiety and Neurosis Group trials registers. Only randomized controlled trials were included, and were assessed for risk of bias. Meta- analysis was undertaken where possible and appropriate. Results: Of 953 articles retrieved, four trials were eligible for inclusion. For one study, only the trial registration document was available, because the study was never completed. All other studies were well conducted with a low risk of bias, although one study had a high dropout rate. Two studies assessed the effect of adding CBT to medication. While an assertive trial of antidepressants does appear to lead to benefit, when compared with placebo, there was no significant advantage, in either study, or in a meta-analysis of data from these trials, that clearly demonstrated an additional benefit of CBT. The third trial showed little advantage of a tricyclic antidepressant over placebo in the context of an inpatient admission. Conclusion: Few randomized controlled trials have investigated interventions for treatmentresistant depression in young people, and results from these show modest benefit from antidepressants with no additional benefit over medication from CBT. Overall, there is a lack of evidence about effective interventions to treat young people who have failed to respond to evidence-based interventions for depression. Research in this area is urgently required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology Research and Behavior Management
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Depressive disorder
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review
  • Treatment-resistant

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