Prevention of Depressive Symptoms in Schoolchildren

Two-Year Follow-Up

Published in: Psychological Science, v. 6, no. 6, Nov. 1995, p. 343-351

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1994

by Jane E. Gillham, Karen Reivich, Lisa H. Jaycox, Martin E. P. Seligman

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After teaching cognitive and social-problem-solving techniques to prevent depressive symptoms, the authors followed 69 fifth- and sixth-grade children at risk for depression for 2 years. These children were compared with 49 children in a matched no-treatment control group. The prevention group reported fewer depressive symptoms through the 2-year follow-up, and moderate to severe symptoms were reduced by half. Surprisingly, the effects of the prevention program grew larger after the program was over. The authors suggest that psychological immunization against depression can occur by teaching cognitive and social skills to children as they enter puberty.

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