The internet isn't all bad and ugly after all! Experts have suggested that adolescents suffering from clinical depression can significantly reduce their symptoms with a new internet program aptly titled - "Project CATCH-IT".
The study led by Dr. Benjamin W. Van Voorhees of University of Chicago revealed that the program is an engaging and effective new alternative for managing depression in teens.
"[A]n Internet-based program may offer a low-cost way to implement depression prevention in community settings," wrote the authors.
The researchers tested the benefits of Project CATCH-IT in 83 adolescent and young adult patients considered at risk for depression, all had relatively mild depressive symptoms lasting longer than a few weeks.
Patients were randomly assigned to undergo a brief discussion regarding depression with their doctor, or to a longer "motivational interview."
Then, both groups were given the Internet address for Project CATCH-IT, which the researchers describe as an "Internet-based behavior change/resiliency building intervention."
On the basis of proven therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral activation, and interpersonal therapy, Project CATCH-IT is designed to reduce thoughts, behaviors, and relations that increase vulnerability to depression.
Also, the program builds skills that reduce the risk of depression and promote a successful transition to adulthood.
It also includes a series of 14 modules that the teens can work through privately on a secure website.
Most of the teens in the study used the Project CATCH-IT website, including 90 percent of those assigned to the longer motivational interview with their doctor.
Essentially, Project CATCH-IT was effective in preventing episodes of clinical depression.
Based on a standard score, the percentage of patients with "clinically significant" depression decreased from about 50 percent at the start of the study to no more than 15 percent at three months follow-up.
New approaches to preventing depression are needed, and the primary care doctor's office is an important location for the identification and treatment of depression in teens.
The new results show that teens with depressive symptoms will use Project CATCH-IT at their doctor's recommendation, and that the program may reduce the risk of depression.
The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.