Cognitive behavioural therapy and medication for treatment of adolescent depression: a network meta-analysis

Cognitive behavioural therapy and medication for treatment of adolescent depression: a network meta-analysis

Dardas, L. A. Xu, H. Franklin, M. S. Scott, J. Vance, A. van de Water, B. Pan, W.
Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapy
BACKGROUND: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication are widely accepted and useful interventions for individuals with depression. However, a gap remains in our current understanding of how CBT directly benefits adolescents with depression. AIMS: The purpose of this study was to examine the short- and long-term effectiveness of CBT only, CBT+Medication, or Medication alone in reducing the duration of major depressive episodes, lessening internalizing and externalizing symptoms and improving global functioning. METHODS: Data were extracted from 14 unique studies with a total of 35 comparisons. Network meta-analysis was conducted and p-scores, a measure of the extent of certainty that one treatment is better than another, were used to rank treatments. RESULTS: There was no significant difference between any two treatments for depression, nor internalizing or externalizing symptoms. For global functioning, CBT had significantly greater effect at the longest follow-up than CBT+Medication. CBT+Medication had the highest p-score for depression, short- and long-term effects, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms long-term effects. No indication of publication bias was found. CONCLUSIONS: Neither modality, CBT nor medication, is superior for treating adolescent depression. However, CBT was superior in improving global functioning, which is essential for meeting developmental goals.

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Type of intervention

Treatment and Child Welfare Interventions


Mental Health Problems and Disorders

Emotional Problems

Depression and Depressed Mood


Psychological Treatments

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Therapy

Psychodynamic/Interpersonal Therapy

Pharmacological Treatment


Age group

Adolescents (13-18 years)

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