Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adolescent Depression
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychological approach that assists individuals in understanding how their thoughts, emotions and behaviors shape their lives. It may be especially helpful for those suffering from depression or other mental health issues. The aim of CBT is to identify and alter any negative thoughts, beliefs or behaviors causing symptoms so you can move forward with living your best life.
When treating adolescent depression, it’s essential to recognize the role cognitive processes play in its onset and persistence. Common theories about depression suggest that symptoms are caused by unhealthy thoughts, emotions and habits which lead to physical pain, damaged relationships and poor work performance – these elements being referred to as cognitive distortions.
These distortions are typically accompanied by negative automatic thoughts, dysfunctional attitudes, a negative attributional style and feelings of hopelessness. The most effective treatments for depression aim to help patients recognize their destructive thoughts, beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthier alternatives.
Studies involving children and adolescents with depression have examined the effectiveness of CBT. Results have demonstrated that it can help reduce symptoms and enhance functioning; however, the precise mechanisms by which it works remain unknown. Deciphering these mechanisms is of critical importance for psychosocial treatment developers so they can focus on components most effective at relieving symptoms and improving functioning.
To evaluate the effectiveness of a CBT intervention among adolescents with depression, we conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial comparing an intensive 10-session CBT group to a control group of students. The design involved two-arm parallel cluster randomization with course leaders serving as allocation unit and youth participants serving as analysis group.
We observed that adolescents with depression who were assigned to the CBT group experienced a reduction in their depressive symptoms and an improvement in social relationships. Compared to the control group, they also felt more relaxed and had improved self-esteem levels.
This study involved adolescents from Norway’s urban area who had been diagnosed with a BDI score of > 10. They could only be recruited after their parents signed an informed consent form and received written information regarding the treatment plan.
After being assigned to either an intervention or control group, adolescents received 10 weekly sessions over 10 weeks. Each lesson involved in-depth teaching in the classroom followed by exercises that illustrated treatment principles. The course leader was a psychologist from local Educational Psychologists Services and school mental health offices who had undergone training in CBT.
The therapists were taught to maintain a positive and encouraging atmosphere during sessions. They had acquired expertise in using interactive questions to assist patients in recognizing their problematic thoughts and behaviors and discovering strategies for change.
They collaborated with the patient to craft a personalized therapy plan tailored to their specific needs and objectives. This plan can be altered as necessary based on patient progress and response to treatment.