Preventing depression, which story does the evidence tell? A theoretical paper

Sara Hjulstad Bækkerud, Odin Hjemdal, Roger Hagen


Depression implies both an individual suffering and high financial costs for society. Even though evidence shows that some forms of psychological treatment for depression could be effective, there is still a large potential for improvement because a significant proportion of the patients in treatment studies do not convalesce and many patients that do experience relapses at follow up. Lately the focus on preventing depression has increased and the present paper is a review of empirical studies related to prevention of
depression among children and adolescents. Collectively the evidence points to larger effect sizes for targeted intervention programs rather than universal programs, both measured at
post-treatment and at follow-up. There are also better results for interventions implemented by psychologists than for interventions implemented by teachers and other professions.
Targeted programs do not have the effects one would expect, and generally the effects of these interventions seem short lived. Possible reasons for these results are discussed and
further directions for research of this field are suggested. It is essential that future work on the prevention of depression among children and adolescents is based on evidence and
empirical findings.

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