Question: How effective is cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of depression in children/adolescents?
Answer: Cognitive therapy -- or cognitive behavioral therapy -- appears to be quite effective for treating depression amongst children and adolescents. There have been over a dozen outcome studies -- well controlled outcome studies completed over the past 10 to 12 years. And invariably the outcomes tend to be positive.
The largest study completed to date -- the treatment for adolescents with depression study -- and that was completed with 439 depressed teenagers. What they found was that the combination of cognitive therapy and medication was the most effective, leading to rapid improvement in mood and their adjustment, how they were doing. But that over time -- over 36 weeks -- cognitive therapy alone was just as effective. Moreover, CBT seems to be effective for reducing suicidal thoughts and behaviors amongst children who are depressed.