Early intervention helps prevent depression for kids


Interventions to protect the mental health of children and adults can be useful and effective for up to a year, according to new research findings.

“Our results were encouraging because depression is so common. It’s one of the costliest disorders internationally,” said lead author Sally Merry, MD, a pediatric psychiatrist with the department of psychological medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The study points out that in 2002 depression ranked second greatest cause of disability in developed countries and first in many developing ones.

Depression can be particularly debilitating for young people. It can take away enjoyment of life, undercut social relationships and school performance. Many times depression can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. According to Tamar Mendelson, PhD, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a first episode of depression dramatically increases the risk of subsequent episodes. At an early age, a person can enter a cycle of depression that could last a lifetime.

Prevention is key. “For one, there are far too few clinicians to treat all the people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses,” explained Mendelson. She also pointed out that effective, evidence-based treatments for depression don’t work for everybody. “By intervening before the start of a disorder, prevention strategies have the potential to avert a chronic, episodic course of mental illness. Thus, prevention efforts with children and adolescents are particularly critical.”

For young people who participate in an intervention program, they were significantly less likely to experience a depressive episode within the following year than those who did not. And it didn’t make a difference if the intervention was individual or with a group. “Group-based prevention strategies may offer a means of reaching more individuals than most treatment approaches,” said Mendelson.

Source: The Cochrane Library, MedicalNewsToday


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