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Can J Psychiatry. 2009 Apr;54(4):212-21.

The prevention of depression in children and adolescents: a review.

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Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



To review the recent literature on the prevention of clinical diagnoses of depression in children and adolescents.


Several preventive intervention programs targeting depressive diagnoses in youth were reviewed. These programs based their prevention strategies on cognitive-behavioural and (or) interpersonal approaches, which have been found to be helpful in the treatment of depression. In addition, family-based prevention strategies were reviewed. Also, nonspecific risk factors for youth depression, including poverty and child maltreatment, were discussed as important considerations in prevention programs targeting youth depression.


In general, successful prevention programs targeting youth depression are based on evidence-based treatment programs for youth depression, structured and outlined in manuals, involve careful training of personnel implementing the protocols, and include assessment of fidelity to the intervention protocols. The programs were consistent with cognitive-behavioural and (or) interpersonal psychotherapy traditions. Overall, it appears that there is reason for hope regarding the role of interventions in preventing depressive disorders in youth.


Several new directions for future research on the prevention of depression in youth were outlined. Future research is needed to establish an empirical base for the prevention of depression in high-risk youth and should: focus on targeted and indicated prevention approaches, attend to moderators of intervention effects, include approaches that aim to enhance the family environment, attend to nonspecific risk factors for disorder, and focus on the dissemination phase of prevention research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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