CBT considered 'ineffective' for depressed teenagers

Adding CBT to SSRI treatment has no impact, UK study finds.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is not effective for moderately to severely depressed adolescents who are being treated with SSRIs, a UK study has shown.

Adding CBT to SSRI treatment for adolescents had no impact on clinical outcomes, and was less cost-effective than SSRI treatment alone.

The study included 193 depressed adolescents who had not responded to an initial brief psychosocial intervention.

They were assigned to receive 12 weeks of treatment with the SSRI fluoxetine (Prozac) plus CBT and routine clinical care, or tofluoxetine and clinical care only. Follow-up at six, 12 and 28 weeks found no difference in recovery rates between the groups, but treatment with fluoxetine plus CBT was more expensive.

Lead researcher Professor Ian Goodyer, from the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge said that adding CBT to SSRI treatment had no benefit over treatment with the antidepressant alone.

But North Shields GP Dr Dave Tomson, who has an interest in mental health, said CBT was of benefit to many patients: 'CBT may have been overly championed, but it can be helpful for depression in adolescents.'


  • Health Technol Assess 2008; 12: No14.

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