Enhancing Treatment for Adolescent Depression

Project Plan

Did you know that sleep problems are reported by the vast majority of young people with depression? In fact, estimates suggest that up to 92% of young people with depression experience sleep problems. Additionally, sleep problems often remain after treatment for depression, and residual sleep disturbance predicts relapse of depression. Therefore, addressing sleep in the treatment of adolescent depression may improve long term mental health outcomes.

Bright light therapy is a promising treatment for sleep and circadian disruption, and when combined with existing treatments for depression, may enhance long term outcomes for young people. However, bright light therapy has not yet been evaluated in young people with depression, to date.

This project aims to answer the question “Does addition of Bright Light Therapy to the treatment for depression, improve mental health outcomes for young people with depression?”

Your Support

We are seeking the participation of young people (13 – 18 years) who are currently experiencing depression.

First, the young person (or their caregiver) will need to complete a quick screening survey about their sleep and mood. If this quick screening shows that young person may be a good fit for our study, both the caregiver and the young person will meet with a psychologist for a 2-hour diagnostic interview to give us a better understanding of the problems the young person is experiencing.

If they are eligible to participate in the study, half of the participants will receive Bright Light Therapy over three weeks (3 treatment sessions) and half will monitor their sleep for three weeks. After this, everyone will receive Brief Behavioural Activation (Brief BA) for Depression (8 treatment sessions). This is an evidence-based treatment known to reduce symptoms of depression.

All assessment and treatment sessions will be conducted online via telehealth. These sessions will be video, and audio recorded to check that treatment is being administered consistently, and so that psychologists can better discuss aspects of assessment/ treatment in clinical supervision.

Research and treatment materials need to be collected and returned to the University of Western Australia, on five occasions, at each key stage of the study (i.e., before sleep treatment/monitoring, after sleep treatment/monitoring, after Brief BA, a one-month follow-up and a six-month follow up). During collection of the research and treatment materials, the participant will also complete some brief computerised tasks. This will take about 45 minutes each time and participants will be provided with a $20 gift card each time. To monitor changes in symptoms the participant will also complete an online survey after each stage of the study.

Perks of involvement

Results from this study may help to improve the treatment for adolescent depression in the future. You may also benefit from improved wellbeing as a result of your involvement in the study. Brief Behavioural Activation is a useful treatment for depression. You will learn key skills (i.e., scheduling rewarding and valued activities, problem solving) to address symptoms of depression, including how to prevent depression from returning. Results from the trial overall will be shared with you upon completion of the study. A summary of results will be emailed to you.

To access the screening form, and to register interest, please go to www.tinyurl.com/TeenMoodScreening

If you have any questions, please contact TeenMood@uwa.edu.au

Project Members

Dr Cele Richardson
Chief Investigator
Prof Michael Gradisar
Professor Shirley Reynolds
Dr Faith Orchard
Dr Lies Notebaert