Teenagers showed improvements in their symptoms of depression after a year-long collaborative care intervention, according to a new study led by Dr. Laura Richardson, adjunct professor of health services at the University of Washington School of Public Health.
Major depression affects one in five young people by age 18. “Proven treatments are available, including medications and psychotherapy,” said Dr. Richardson, investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute Center for Child Health, Development and Behavior, a professor of pediatrics at the UW and affiliate investigator at Group Health Research Institute.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. About 100 teens ages 13 to 17 were randomly assigned to receive either collaborative care or the care they would normally receive. In the collaborative care intervention, a depression case manager was based in the primary care doctor’s office and helped teens and their parents make individual decisions about treatments. The care manager provided either brief cognitive behavioral therapy sessions or worked with doctors to choose antidepressant medication. Normal-care patients were given their test results and could get access to mental health services within the Group Health system.
Researchers reported that teens receiving collaborative care were more likely to received evidence-based treatment and they had fewer depressive symptoms. “The body and the mind are intimately connected,” Dr. Richardson added. “So it makes good sense to organize treatment for depression in this way, integrating care for mental and physical health within primary care.”