Recovery time for mental illness depends on social factors, genetics, concurrent disorders and the type of treatment a patient is undergoing. The Treatment of Adolescents with Depression Study, which was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, stresses that adolescents with major depression should have long-term treatment in order to fully recover. The study, which appeared in the American Journal of Psychiatry, included 439 teens who were treated one of four ways over 36 weeks: Fluoxetine (Prozac); cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); Fluoxetine combined with CBT; a placebo pill. The placebo group was taken out of the study after 12 weeks, but the other groups continued their therapy for the entire 36 weeks. The group that had Fluoxetine combined with CBT went into remission more quickly than the other groups. No matter what treatment the individuals were assigned, most participants had lasting benefits, with 91 percent having no suicidal thoughts by the end of the 36 weeks, 59 percent having their depression go into full remission and 82 percent reporting their depression symptoms had improved. Over the year that followed the trial the researchers interviewed the teens up to four times to find out if they were depression-free. In that next year, 68 percent of teens had reached remission. Unfortunately, 30 percent of the teens who had reached remission in the 36 weeks fell back into depression within that following year. Six percent of the teens in the study had suicidal thoughts in the year after the trial ended. Teen depression can come back without effective management strategies learned through treatment. Problems with friends and relationships can aggravate symptoms of depression, as can family problems like divorce and abuse. Researchers saw improvements through the depression treatment study, yet saw enough teens fall back into depression after the trial that they became discouraged. Researchers suggest that teens be continuously monitored for symptoms that may start to creep back. With improved methods of long-term depression treatment, more young people will be able to maintain their freedom from depression.
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