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Lifting the Mood: Depressed teens benefit from combined therapy

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11:18am, August 18, 2004

Each year, approximately 1 in 20 teenagers experiences the anguish of major depression. Schoolwork and social life suffer as these youngsters grapple with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, often topped by suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

There's uplifting news for depressed teens, though. Many feel markedly better after completing a relatively brief course of treatment that includes both an antidepressant medication and talk therapy, according to a team led by psychiatrist John S. March of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

In the largest-ever study of treatments for teen depression, this combination of drug and talk therapies alleviated the disorder's symptoms in a larger proportion of youngsters than either treatment did alone, March and his coworkers report in the Aug. 18 Journal of the American Medical Association. The antidepressant-psychotherapy mix also showed superiority to placebo pills, the researchers say.

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