As many as 13–20 percent of adolescents in the U.S. and other developed countries experience minor or major depressive episodes each year, according to Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). To address this problem, Gladstone developed a unique intervention, which she discussed during this May 2018 Lunchtime Seminar presentation.
Adolescents who experience minor or major depressive episodes have a higher incidence of medical illness and social adjustment challenges than those without depressive illness. They are also at risk for suicide and recurrent depressive episodes. The public health burden of depression is made worse by relapsing depressive disorders that recur every five to seven years in 80 percent of individuals, with even closer intervals in adolescence.
To meet this need, Dr. Gladstone and her team developed and evaluated a self-guided, internet-based primary care intervention, CATCH-IT, to target adolescents (ages 13-19) at risk for depressive illness. CATCH-IT incorporates character stories and graphic elements to meet current social media standards and combines therapeutic modalities (e.g., cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal interventions) in an ecological model. Adolescents at risk for depression in the Chicago and Boston areas were assigned randomly to the CATCH-IT intervention or to a health education control and were assessed over time for depressive symptoms, depressive episodes, and other functional outcomes.
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