Franklin James Cook

CBT Shown To Be Preventative with Teen Depression

In Mental Illness, Prevention, Research on July 7, 2009 at 6:52 am

A post by Nancy Shute last month in her U.S. News & World Report “On Parenting” blog covers a study showing that “cognitive behavioral therapy can prevent teenagers from becoming clinically depressed.”

That’s great news, because serious depression afflicts 2 million teenagers each year and puts them at greater risk of suicide and depression throughout life.

The findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Half of the 316 teenagers in the study, led by Vanderbilt University psychology professor Judy Garber, took part in eight weekly, 90-minute group sessions, in which they were taught problem-solving skills and practiced them. Cognitive behavioral therapy isn’t traditional, long-term “talk therapy”; it’s a short-term treatment, usually lasting no more than 20 sessions, based on the idea that people’s thoughts cause their feelings and behaviors. Thus if people change how they think about a situation and how they respond to it, they can feel better, even if the situation hasn’t changed.

Shute notes that “finding cognitive behavioral therapy can be tricky, because it’s advertised more than it’s actually delivered” and gives a description of CBT, from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, which she points out, “also has a decent online therapist finder”:

In cognitive therapy, a person learns to:

  • Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.
  • Become aware of how thoughts can influence feelings in ways that sometimes are not helpful.
  • Learn about thoughts that seem to occur automatically and how they can affect emotions.
  • Evaluate critically whether these “automatic” thoughts and assumptions are accurate or perhaps biased.
  • Develop the skills to notice, interrupt, and correct these biased thoughts.

[The abridged URL for this post is .]

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