Friday, August 24, 2018 by Zoey Sky
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and according to a recent study, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective and fastest way to help teenagers overcome their depression.
Over the last few years, teenage depression rates have soared by a whopping 30 percent. Sadly, both teens and their parents are often forced to choose among limited, expensive, and imperfect choices for treatment. Because of this, adolescents are either started early on antidepressants, sent to “potentially expensive therapy sessions,” or, worse of all, nothing is done to address their depression.
However, the latest study from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research has determined that CBT can help teenagers alleviate their depression. Even short-term therapy can positively affect their condition.
Depression is a booming business in America, and trying to address this common mental health issue costs the country at least $210 billion annually. While the costs families have to shoulder often vary because of geographical locations, insurance policies, and the kinds of treatment being done, therapy can cost anywhere from $75 and $150 hourly. The cost of prescription antidepressants is almost the same while a month’s prescription of generic drugs might cost $39 to $74.
For most cases, combining therapy and medication is considered “the most effective and efficient remedy” for depression. (Related: Music therapy helps reduce depression and increases self-esteem.)
For this study, researchers observed 212 participants aged 12 to 18 years old. Some of the teenagers either rejected medication or discontinued their antidepressants after they were prescribed.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a “black box” warning for all antidepressants given to patients younger than 24. These drugs can cause various side effects such as nausea and stomach trouble, insomnia or sleepiness, weight changes, headaches, or sexual difficulties. The black box warning, labeled as such because the text can be seen “in a prominent ‘black box’ on the package insert,” states that despite being prescribed to help manage their condition, the patients “may have increasingly suicidal tendencies and thoughts” while on the drugs.
While the warning might dissuade most users, in terms of cost-effectiveness, antidepressants may seem the better option for a lot of families.
None of the teenagers who took part in the study were on medication, and the findings of Kaiser Permanente’s research determined that CBT is a reliable form of therapy that can save families, insurers and the government money in the long run. This doesn’t compromise the efficiency of the therapy, which remains a viable method of helping teenagers manage depression.
CBT, a favored form of psychotherapy in the country, features a goal-oriented approach. It promotes meaningful discussions with patients to determine how they can change their behavior and thinking in order to change their resulting feelings. The therapy is usually a short-term intervention, and it can have a five to 10 month duration.
Participants in the study underwent a “more abbreviated form of the therapy,” and they only had an average of 6.4 sessions. The teenagers reported that they had “symptom-free days” much earlier once the therapy started, unlike those who weren’t in therapy.
For the succeeding two years, the teenagers who received CBT had at least 27 more depression-free days compared to those not in therapy or were given medication.
Once dollar values were assigned to determine how much was spent and was saved due to the “depression-free days, improved long-term quality of life, and avoidance of other costs,” the scientists estimated that throughout the year, CBT minimized costs by around $5,000.
Dr. John Dickerson, the study’s lead author, shares that aside from the financial component, CBT is clinically effective. Despite the preconceived notion that long-term CBT sessions might be expensive, he adds that it’s not that big of a financial burden.
Dr. Dickerson concludes that even though the study did not look into the particular mechanisms of the treatment’s efficiency and cost-cutting, CBT could have decreased the probability of hospitalizations and that this would have contributed greatly to the costs shouldered by the families and the government.
You can learn more about meditation and mental health at Mind.news.