Depression can significantly impact one’s ability to function. “Although depressive disorders are often thought of as affecting adults, it is not at all rare to encounter school-age youth with depression or depressive feature,” said Bradley T. Erford of the Education Specialties Department at Loyola University, and lead author of a recent study. “Estimates of the prevalence of depression in school-age youth are approximately 2% to 3% for pre-pubertal children and 5% to 8% for adolescents.” He added that by adulthood, nearly one quarter of all people will have experienced at least one major depressive episode. Because the first line of defense against depression is usually psychotherapy, the effectiveness of this form of treatment for children must be validated. In his study, Erford addressed three specific questions with regards to psychotherapy for depressed children. He wanted to determine if it was an effective option, if the effects were sustainable, and if treatment setting, in or out of school, influenced the outcome.
Using data from 42 clinical trials on children ranging in age from 6 to 17 years, Erford and a team of researchers explored all three of their concerns. They found that in answer to their first question, psychotherapy had been proven to be a highly effective treatment option for depressed children. “A second primary conclusion of the present meta-analysis is that the depression treatments seem to have significant staying power for perhaps up to 2 years,” said Erford. “A third general conclusion from this meta-analysis is that treatments implemented at school are just as effective as treatments conducted in an outpatient setting.” He added, “Thus, counseling and psychotherapy exist as an important treatment approach for depression, just as important as antidepressant medications, many of which have serious, even dangerous, side effects. Counseling and psychotherapy can also be used in concert with medication, given that a combined approach seems most efficacious over the short term.”
Erford, Bradley T., Breann M. Erford, Gina Lattanzi, Janet Weller, Hallie Schein, Emily Wolf, Meredith Hughes, Jenna Darrow, Janet Savin-Murphy, and Elizabeth Peacock. “Counseling Outcomes From 1990 to 2008 for School-Age Youth With Depression: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Counseling and Development 89.4 (2011): 439-57. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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