Refractory depression in children and adolescents

Kelly N. Botteron, Barbara Geller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Refractory or treatments resistant depression in child and adolescent populations is a difficult construct to operationalize currently. To date, only one of the small number of completed double-blind placebo-controlled treatment investigations have not demonstrated a significant effect of antidepressants in comparison to placebo. However, it has been established that child and adolescent MDD is a serious disorder that appears to have clinical continuity with adult affective disorders and is generally of long duration with high rates of recurrence and eventual progression to mania, substance abuse, or other serious psychopathology. In addition, families of children with affective disorders evidence substantial genetic loading with high rates of affective disorders contributing both genetic vulnerability and potential environmental risk as well. There have been no empirically identified treatments that alter the long-term course of the illness. Thus treatment resistance is a significant issue for this population. This review will focus on controlled treatment trials and will examine the potential relevance of psychosocial impairment, genetic-familial risk, and neuromorphometric brain differences to treatment resistance in children and adolescents with major depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


  • Affective disorder
  • Antidepressive agents
  • Genetics
  • Growth and development
  • Neuroimaging-brain
  • Psychotherapy
  • Social adjustment


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