Study Shows Family Based Interpersonal Psychotherapy (FB-IPT) for Depressed Preadolescents is More Effective than Child-Centered Therapy

Washington D.C., March 3, 2015

A recent study published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that Family Based Interpersonal Psychotherapy (FB-IPT) is more effective in treating preadolescent children with depression compared to child-centered therapy (CCT).

Preadolescents with depressive disorders may be under-diagnosed and go untreated because those presenting for outpatient treatment with clinically significant depressive symptoms often do not meet full diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). However, preadolescents with depressive symptoms are at increased risk of experiencing MDD in adolescence.   

To date, no psychosocial intervention has been established as the superior treatment for preadolescents diagnosed with depression. For this study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine randomly assigned 42 preadolescents (ages 7-12) with depression to one of two therapy conditions: FB-IPT, an intervention that included parents in the child’s treatment and focused on improving family and peer relationships, or to child-centered therapy (CCT), a supportive therapy for children.

Depressive symptoms in children were measured by a clinician-rated children’s depression rating scale, and mood questionnaires that both the child and parent completed.  

Preadolescents receiving FB-IPT had higher rates of remission (66 percent vs. 31 percent), a greater decrease in depressive symptoms from pre- to post-treatment, and lower depressive symptoms at post-treatment than did preadolescents with depression receiving CCT.

Children receiving FB-IPT also reported significant reductions in anxiety symptoms than did preadolescents in the CCT group. In addition, the study demonstrated that FB-IPT helped to reduce social impairment in depressed preadolescents, and these changes were associated with decreases in their depressive symptoms.

“These findings provide strong support for Family Based Interpersonal Psychotherapy as an effective treatment for depression in children between the ages of 7-12,” said Laura J. Dietz, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “It also highlights the importance of early intervention for depressed preadolescents who are at risk for depression as teenagers.”

Co-authors of the article, “Family-Based Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Preadolescents: Examining Efficacy and Potential Treatment Mechanisms,” include Rebecca J. Weinberg, PsyD. and David A. Brent, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh and Laura Mufson, Ph. D., of Columbia University (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2014.12.011) which appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 54, Issue 3 (March 2015), published by Elsevier.

This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH: MH 079353, L.J.D.).

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Notes for editors
Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Mary Billingsley at +1 202 587 9672 or mbillingsley@jaacap.org. Journalists wishing to interview the authors may contact Media Relations Manager, Ashley Trentrock at trentrockAR@upmc.edu, +1 412-586-9776

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About JAACAP
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) is the official publication of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. JAACAP is the leading journal focusing exclusively on today's psychiatric research and treatment of the child and adolescent. Published twelve times per year, each issue is committed to its mission of advancing the science of pediatric mental health and promoting the care of youth and their families. www.jaacap.com

The journal's purpose is to advance research, clinical practice, and theory in child and adolescent psychiatry. It is interested in manuscripts from diverse viewpoints, including genetic, epidemiological, neurobiological, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, social, cultural, and economic. Studies of diagnostic reliability and validity, psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatment efficacy, and mental health services effectiveness are encouraged. The journal also seeks to promote the well-being of children and families by publishing scholarly papers on such subjects as health policy, legislation, advocacy, culture and society, and service provision as they pertain to the mental health of children and families.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com

Media contact
Mary Billingsley
JAACAP Editorial Office
+1 202 587 9672
mbillingsley@jaacap.org

Ashley Trentrock
UPMC Media Relations
+1 412 586 9776
+1 412-529-9092
TrentrockAR@upmc.edu