Adolescent depression is a chronic, recurrent and impairing condition that accounts for a substantial proportion of physical injuries and premature deaths in teenagers. Untreated depression results in problems in school and interpersonal relationships and increases the risk for suicidal behaviour. Not all children respond well to antidepressant treatment so an alternative strategy is important. A U.S. study of 334 depressed 12 to 18 year olds who had not responded to SSRI* antidepressants after two months evaluated the effectiveness of four different treatment strategies: (i) switching to a different SSRI (ii) switching to a different SSRI and using cognitive behaviour therapy (iii) switching to venlafaxine (iv) switching to venlafaxine plus CBT. The results showed that adding CBT to the antidepressant treatment was more effective than simply changing drugs, either to another SSRI or to venlafaxine. There was no difference between changing to another SSRI and changing to venlafaxine.
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*Serotonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitors which work by increasing the amount of the 'feel-good' chemical serotonin in the brain.