The Buzz: CBT and its neural impact on adolescent depression

Written by: Carly Lenniger

July 1, 2020

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common disorders in the United States today, impacting an estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17. Given the prevalence of this disorder, researchers have focused resources on effective treatments. For adolescents, effective treatment means more than a change in behavior, but a "correction" of the course of neurodevelopment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common pharmacological intervention for depression as it is known to improve mood and thought patterns, but does it impact the brain at a neural level?

Some background info . . .

The table to your left lists the criteria for a major depressive disorder diagnosis.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking. or on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.

  • People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.

-American Psychological Association

What does CBT do?

  • CBT focuses on focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving specific problems for patients

  • CBT is mostly what you think of when you think of therapy

  • One of the things CBT is used for is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)