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The Blues Program

The Blues Program is a six-week group intervention focused on reducing negative cognitions and increasing engagement in pleasant activities in an effort to prevent the onset and persistence of depression in at-risk high school youth with depressive symptoms.

The weekly sessions focus on building group rapport and increasing participant involvement in pleasant activities, learning and practicing cognitive restructuring techniques and developing response plans to future life stressors. In-session exercises require participants to apply skills taught in the program. Home practice assignments are intended to reinforce the skills taught in the sessions and help participants learn how to apply these skills in their daily life.

All studies included students with depressive symptoms (but not a major depression diagnosis) when screened prior to conducting the study. Each study involved the random assignment of participants to groups participating in various interventions for depression. All studies included measures of depressive symptoms and major depression onset.

The first qualifying study included 378 students from five high schools who completed self-reported surveys and diagnostic interviews at pre-test, post-test (upon program completion) and 6-, 12-, 18- and 24-month follow-ups. The second qualifying study included 341 students from six high schools in the greater Austin, Texas area who completed self-reported surveys and diagnostic interviews at pre-test, post-test (upon program completion), and six-month, one-year and two-year follow-ups.

Compared to participants in one or more comparison groups, participants completing the cognitive behavioral depression prevention program had greater reductions in interviewer-rated depressive symptoms at post-test, six-month follow-up and one- and two-year follow-ups. According to the studies, they had greater reductions in self-rated depressive symptoms at post-test, six-month follow-up and two-year follow-up, as well as lower rates of major depression onset at six-month and two-year follow-up, as well as greater reductions in self-reported substance use at post-test and six-month follow-up.

Participants in the intervention group also had greater improvements in social adjustment at six-month follow-up and reduced negative cognitions and increased reports of pleasant activities.

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Return to Blueprints Bulletin Issue 1. March 2017.

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