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In Context: lessons about adolescent unipolar depression from the improving mood with psychoanalytic and cognitive therapies trial

Loades, M. E. ORCID:, Midgley, N. ORCID:, Herring, G. T. ORCID:, O’Keeffe, S. ORCID:, Reynolds, S. ORCID:, Goodyer, I. M. ORCID:, Barrett, B., Byford, S., Dubicka, B., Hill, J., Holland, F., Kelvin, R., Midgley, N., Roberts, C., Senior, R., Target, M., Widmer, B., Wilkinson, P. and Fonagy, P. (2023) In Context: lessons about adolescent unipolar depression from the improving mood with psychoanalytic and cognitive therapies trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. ISSN 1527-5418

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2023.03.017


This review paper summarizes the results of the Improving Mood with Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Therapies (IMPACT) study and its implications for psychological treatment of adolescents with moderate to severe unipolar major depression. IMPACT was a pragmatic, superiority, randomized controlled trial conducted in the United Kingdom, which compared the clinical and cost-effectiveness of short-term psychoanalytic therapy (STPP), cognitive−behavioral therapy (CBT), and a brief psychosocial intervention (BPI) in reducing depression symptoms in 465 adolescents with unipolar major depression, aged 11 to 17 years. Although this was a clinically heterogeneous group of adolescents, some symptoms (eg, sleep and concentration difficulties, irritability/anger) were common and disabling. The trial reported no significant difference among the 3 treatments in reducing depression symptoms. One year after treatment, 84% of participants showed improvement in depressive symptoms (<50% of baseline symptoms) and improved psychosocial functioning, achieving this through different symptom reduction trajectories. Although participants attended fewer treatment sessions than planned, the 3 treatments were delivered with fidelity to their respective models. Ending treatment without therapist agreement occurred in 37% of cases. This was not associated with outcomes by treatment group. Adolescents emphasized the importance of the therapeutic relationship in all 3 treatments. Results suggest that although most adolescents respond to time-limited, structured psychological therapy, subgroups of depressed adolescents are likely to need additional treatment or support. These include adolescents who live in complex circumstances and/or who believe that their needs are not met in therapy, some who stop treatment early, and the 16% to 18% of adolescents who do not respond to treatment.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:112453


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