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Antidepressants and CBT aren’t working for stress and anxiety

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Although the therapies appeared to be effective at the time, most of the teenagers who were treated had relapsed within a few years. Just 22 per cent were still free of their anxiety or depression, researchers from Connecticut University’s School of Medicine discovered.

They checked on the progress of 319 teenagers who had been treated for three months either with the SSRI antidepressant Lustral (sertraline) or CBT. Both are established and proven treatments for anxiety and depression, the researchers emphasised.

Yet, six years later when the average age of the group was 17 years, 30 per cent of the group were still chronically ill, as the researchers described their condition, and 48 per cent had initially improved after treatment but had relapsed, leaving just 22 per cent of the group that was still free of anxiety or depression.

The teenagers given the drug didn’t fare any better – or worse – than those who had the therapy, the researchers found.

Assessing the differences between those who remained free of anxiety or depression and those who relapsed, the researchers said that other factors that played a part included strong family support and the number of ‘negative life events’.

But with these problems affecting around 10 per cent of young people, it’s very concerning that medicine doesn’t have any effective response, the researchers said.

(Source: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2018; 57: 471)

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