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Treating Teen Depression Cuts Drug Abuse

A new study shows a 15% reduction in drug use among teens who were treated for depression.

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By Valerie Tejeda

06/06/12

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Treating depression among teens can curb drug abuse according to a new study. Published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, researchers from Duke University found that of 192 teens who successfully received depression treatment, only 10% later abused drugs, compared to 25% whose treatment was unsuccessful. “It turned out that whatever they responded to—cognitive-behavioral therapy, Prozac, both treatments, or a placebo—if they did respond within 12 weeks they were less likely to develop a drug-use disorder,” says Dr. John Curry, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. Researchers believe that mood regulation from the medications, life skills taken from the therapy, and receiving support from others all played a big part in later decisions to stay drug-free. The teens were required to have five symptoms of major depression to be considered for the study, such as: depressed mood; worthlessness; loss of interest; poor concentration; disruptions in appetite, sleep or energy; and suicidal thoughts. Surprisingly though, alcohol use among the participants was unchanged by depression treatment. “It does point out that alcohol use disorders are very prevalent during that particular age period," says Curry, "and there’s a need for a lot of prevention and education for college students to avoid getting into heavy drinking and then the beginnings of an alcohol disorder. I think that is definitely a take-home message.” 

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