Predicting the One-Year Course of Adolescent Major Depression
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OBJECTIVE: To identify specific clinical and social functioning variables that predict persistence of major depression over a 1-year period of follow-up. METHOD: The sample consisted of 67 adolescents with major depression, drawn from consecutive referrals to psychiatric clinics in a defined, geographic catchment area. Clinical interviews and questionnaires measuring behaviors, symptoms, and social functioning were administered to both the adolescent and a parent at inception and at follow-up. Discriminant function analyses were used to identify inception variables that predicted clinical course independent of severity of depressive symptoms and global functioning. RESULTS: At 1-year follow-up, major depression remitted in 66% of subjects. Persisters were characterized at inception as older, more likely to have substance use or anxiety disorders, less involved with fathers, and less responsive to mother's discipline compared with remitters. The effect of these prognostic factors was independent of symptom severity and global functioning. CONCLUSION: These variables appear to reflect perpetuating and ameliorating factors influencing the short-term course of major depression. The findings suggest that treatments for adolescent depression that aim to enhance parent-adolescent relationships, and that specifically target coexisting disorders, should be evaluated for effectiveness.
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