A.P. Matos1, C. Marques1, S. Oliveira1, M. Pinheiro2, E. Arnarson3, E. Craighead4

1Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Coimbra (PORTUGAL)
2University of Coimbra (PORTUGAL)
3Landsipatli University Hospital (ICELAND)
4Emory University (UNITED STATES)
Depression in adolescence is a worldwide phenomenon, expressed by cognitive, behavioral and physical symptoms that cause significant impairment. Additionally, some adolescents show chronic levels of depressive symptoms and are more likely to experience mood disorders in adulthood. Thus, prevention of depression in adolescence is essential to avoid these life patterns.

The Program for the Prevention of Depression in Adolescents (PPDA) was adapted for the Portuguese population from the preventive program for adolescents “Mind and Health” developed by (Arnarson & Craighead, 2009). It’s a selective prevention program, with a cognitive-behavioral basis, composed by 14 sessions.

This study aims to assess the efficacy of the PPDA, from baseline to 12-month follow-up.

The sample was composed by 70 at-risk adolescents (scores between the 75th and the 90th percentiles on the CDI), attending the eight or the ninth grade in public and private schools in Portugal, that never had depression or dysthymia (evaluated by K-SADS-PL). These at risk students were divided into two groups (the experimental group, composed by adolescents who attended the prevention program, and the TAU control group) to study the efficacy of the program. Depressive symptomatology was assessed by Children Depression Inventory (CDI, Kovacs, 1985).

The majority of the adolescents showed a good attendance in the program and a very high degree of satisfaction with all the program sessions. Three moments of evaluation were performed: before the prevention program (pretest), after the prevention program (post-test), and 12 months of follow up.

When compared these three evaluation moments, significant differences were found only for the experimental group. Post hoc test showed that there were significant differences between pretest and 12 month follow-up, only for the experimental group.

In the experimental group, the values of CDI came down from pretest to posttest. In the 12 month follow-up the CDI values were similar to the posttest. In the control group the differences in the three moments were not statistically significant and it verified a more pronounced ascent in the CDI values in the 12-month follow-up.

The results suggest that PPDA is a program that can reduce symptoms of depression in at-risk adolescents. However, the enlargement of the sample, namely in the 12-month follow-up, is necessary to reinforce the results obtained.