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Pediatric unipolar depression: Psychotherapy

Liza Bonin, PhD
C Scott Moreland, DO
Section Editor
David Brent, MD
Deputy Editor
David Solomon, MD


Psychosocial interventions teach patients and their families to understand themselves and the nature of depression, as well as to effectively manage relationships and life stressors associated with depression [1]. Psychosocial interventions also help the patient to cope with depressive symptoms, improve social and self-management skills, and increase self-confidence.

Psychosocial treatments include, but are not limited to, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy for adolescents (IPT-A), family therapy, dynamic therapy, group therapy, and supportive therapy. Among these, only CBT and IPT-A have been shown to be efficacious in controlled research within a delineated population [2].

The psychosocial interventions for the treatment of adolescent depression will be discussed below. An overview of treatment for adolescent depression and pharmacologic treatments for adolescent depression are discussed separately. (See "Overview of treatment for pediatric depression" and "Pediatric unipolar depression and pharmacotherapy: Choosing a medication".)


Independent of the psychosocial treatment strategy employed, the following considerations are important for effective intervention:

Once adolescent depression has been identified, psychosocial treatment begins with a systematic assessment of the different domains that will be targets for intervention (ie, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and interpersonal) using multiple methods and informants.


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Nov 10, 2015.
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