Computerized cognitive-behavioral therapy could be efficient for treating depression in adolescents

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Participating in computerized cognitive-behaviorial therapy could be an efficient route for reducing depressive symptoms among adolescents and young adults, a new study has found. The findings appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open.

The study, initiated by a team of researchers at the University of York, focused on assessing adolescents, aged 12-18, who exhibited depressive symptoms. CCBT was used among the participants primarily in a private setting within their school.

To measure depressive symptoms, researchers issued the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, a 33-item measurement tool developed by Adrian Angold.

“Participants completed mood, quality of life (QoL) and resource-use measures at intervention completion, and 4 and 12 months post-intervention. Changes in self-reported measures and completion rates were assessed by group,” Barry Wright, co-author of the study, stated.

“139 met inclusion criteria (a 33-item Mood and Feelings Questionnaire score of ≥20) and were randomised to Stressbusters or self-help websites using remote computerised single allocation.”

Upon reviewing the results, researchers found no drastic difference between CCBT and the participants utilizing the self-help website at 12 months.

“Both showed improvements on all measures. QoL measures in the intervention group showed earlier improvement compared with the website group,” Wright explained.

“Costs were lower in the intervention group but the difference was not statistically significant. The cost-effectiveness analysis found just over a 65% chance of Stressbusters being cost-effective compared with websites. The 4-month follow-up results from the initial feasibility study are reported separately.”

With these findings, researchers theorize CCBT and self-help websites could be a significant way of efficiently treating adolescents suffering with depression.

“CCBT is easily accessible and addresses some young people’s reluctance to access mental health services. CCBT may reduce this barrier in providing easy access in the community, without need for regular face-to-face contact.”

“Computerised cognitive–behavioural therapy (CCBT) in the care pathway has the potential to improve access to psychological therapies and reduce waiting lists within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, however, more randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are needed to assess this,” Wright concluded.