Impact of Comorbid Anxiety in an Effectiveness Study of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess the impact of comorbid anxiety on treatment for adolescent depression in an effectiveness study of interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed adolescents (IPT-A).

Method:

A randomized clinical trial was conducted from April 1, 1999, through July 31, 2002. Sixty-three depressed adolescents, ages 12 to 18, received either IPT-A or treatment as usual delivered by school-based mental health clinicians. Adolescents with and without probable comorbid anxiety disorders were compared on depression and overall functioning. All analyses used an intent-to-treat design.

Results:

Comorbid anxiety was associated with higher depression scores at baseline (p <.01) and poorer depression outcome posttreatment (p <.05). IPT-A was nonsignificantly more effective in treating the depression of adolescents with comorbid anxiety (p =.07). Adolescents whose depression and functioning improved during the course of treatment also showed an improvement in anxiety (p <.01), largely irrespective of treatment condition.

Conclusions:

Adolescents with comorbid depression and anxiety present with more severe depression and may be more difficult to treat. Structured treatments like IPT-A may be particularly helpful for comorbidly depressed adolescents as compared to supportive therapy. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 2006;45(8):904-912.

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