The primary findings of the IMPACT study - examining the treatment of adolescent depression (comparing STPP - Short term Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, CBT and what is called a Brief Psychosocial Intervention) - have just been published online in Lancet Psychiatry.
Depression affects around 5% of the adolescent population, causes considerable suffering, and personal impairment and commonly recurs into adult life. Recurrence is associated with increasing personal difficulties and lower educational and employment prospects. Unlike any previous studies, this study was designed to find out whether treatment was still associated with improved outcomes a year after therapy was completed.
This study was a Randomised Controlled Trial of 465 adolescents referred to 15 NHS clinics who received a diagnosis of depression. The patients were randomised to a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), short term psychoanalytic therapy (STPP) or to a brief psychosocial intervention (BPI). At the end of study, 70% of adolescents had improved substantially in each of the treatment groups. There was around 50% reduction in depression symptoms maintained a year after end of therapy. The median length of therapy was 6 to 11 sessions, usually delivered over a 25-28 week period. This study cannot determine the extent to which improvement can be directly attributed to the treatments, but it demonstrates that the three different psychological therapies may be employed in NHS CAMHS with equal confidence. ACP members have been involved in the study and continue to administer STPP. Further research is needed to find out whether these different treatments have advantages for specific types of adolescent depression, and whether they differ in their long term effectiveness.
The paper is free to download, See: :http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/onlinefirst