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Back to basics: could behavioural therapy be a good treatment option for youth depression? A critical review

Authors

  • Sarah E. Hetrick,

    Corresponding author
    1. Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Headspace Centre of Excellence, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • Corresponding author: Dr Sarah Hetrick, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Locked Bag 10, Parkville, Melbourne, Vic. 3052, Australia. Email: shetrick@unimelb.edu.au

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  • Georgina R. Cox,

    1. Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Headspace Centre of Excellence, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Caroline A. Fisher,

    1. Brain Disorders Program, Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre, Austin Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Learning Differences Centre, Child and Family Psychology Clinic, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Sunil S. Bhar,

    1. Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Simon M. Rice,

    1. Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Headspace Centre of Excellence, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Christopher G. Davey,

    1. Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Orygen Youth Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Alexandra G. Parker

    1. Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Headspace Centre of Excellence, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • SH and CD are on National Health and Medical Research Council Training Fellowships. OYHRC is affiliated with Melbourne Health and the University of Melbourne and receives funding from the Colonial Foundation.

Abstract

Aim

Recent findings from systematic reviews and primary research studies have shown more modest effects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for youth depression than previously shown, highlighting the need to further enhance the effectiveness of this intervention, or components of this intervention. Therefore, the aim of this review is to summarize the work that has been done to identify the different components of CBT and their varying effectiveness for young people with depression.

Methods

Narrative overview of English language reviews/meta-analyses and primary intervention studies retrieved from searches of computerized databases as well as ancestry searches.

Results

Reviews of intervention studies of adults as well as young people with depression have shown that behavioural approaches are equally as effective as cognitive approaches in reducing depression symptoms. Post-hoc analyses of large studies in youth depression have also shown that behavioural approaches might be more suitable for young people.

Conclusions

Behaviourally based approaches appear promising in treating youth depression; however, further research is required. This research will represent an essential step towards refining interventions for youth depression, and enabling interventions to be targeted to particular subgroups, to optimize their effectiveness.

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