Treating Depression In Teens Using What They Know Best – Their Phone

Oct 10, 2019

Researchers at Stony Brook University hope to find new ways to treat depression among teenagers – using a computer or smartphone. 

Millions of teenagers suffer from depression, and teenage depression rates have risen dramatically in recent years. But Stony Brook’s Jessica Schleider says most teens never receive treatment.

“So there’s a need for treatments that are easier for folks to access, that can be accessed outside of typical settings, and that are more potent.”

Schleider and her team will work with 300 teenagers experiencing depression. They’ll create a single automated therapy session that teens can take part in using a smartphone or computer. There’s no therapist on the other end, but the sessions are tailored to teens based on their symptoms.

“What we’ll be able to see is – do kids’ central symptoms predict how well they’ll respond? For example, is a kid with more central hopelessness to their depression more likely to respond to a single-session intervention that targets hopelessness?”

Schleider says this could be a way to match teens to quick but powerful ways to help them handle the problems causing their depression.

“My greatest hope for this study is that we can broaden and extend the current ecosystem of mental health care options for teenagers who need help.”

She says if she can do that, she’ll consider her mission accomplished.