Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration


Depression is a prevalent mental health concern in adolescents, with a significant proportion developing it in medium to severe variations. It can have significant effects on their lives, particularly considering that adolescence is a critical period in the formation of one’s life afterward. As such, treating it effectively is a topic of high importance from both the medical and the social standpoints. Currently, treatments for depression in adolescents primarily consist of medication usage. However, the author believes that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can prove useful in conjunction with them. In adolescents with moderate to severe depression (p), how does receiving treatment with pharmacotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy concurrently (i), versus the use of pharmacotherapy alone (c), work to treat depression and improve the quality of life (o), a six-month time period (t)?

Problem Statement

Treatments for depression are still in their early stages of development, as with many other mental health problems. As such, they do not necessarily achieve optimal effectiveness or are the safest options available, with the fewest adverse side effects. Medication is particularly prone to developing the latter due to the large variation within the patient base and the difficulty of testing for all possible cases. Strawn et al. (2017) confirm that antidepressants follow this pattern, potentially inducing a variety of problems from restlessness and headaches to suicidality in adolescents receiving treatment. A nonpharmacological intervention that could effectively help treat the condition alongside drugs or instead of them may help avoid such outcomes. As such, cognitive behavioral therapy warrants consideration as a potential option, given the extensive research that has been conducted into it and the current findings.


The population for this project will consist of adolescents with moderate to severe depression. In them, the condition will likely create significant daily life disruptions to interfere with their activities and future prospects. As such, they need assistance first and foremost compared to teenagers with mild depression that they can manage. They are also the most likely to be receiving medications for their condition, as the severity of the issues warrants it. If the therapy is proven to be effective for them with minimal adverse effects, it can then be considered for application to other patients.


This project aims to determine whether cognitive behavioral therapy is a useful tool for addressing moderate and severe adolescent depression. Keles and Idsoe (2018) find that it is an effective tool for the purpose, but its overall effectiveness is not necessarily high. With that said, its nonpharmacological nature means that it can likely be applied alongside medications without incurring any significant side effects. As such, testing of the effects of the combined therapy is warranted to see if it improves outcomes.


The comparison is made against the application of medication alone for two reasons: testing the effectiveness of the combined therapy and ethical concerns. If both approaches address the same issues and thus fail to produce improvements, then there is no reason to apply one of the two, most likely CBT. Additionally, the usage of a control without any treatment is unethical because it would mean leaving people with severe issues without aid. Considering the project will work with adolescents diagnosed with moderate or severe depression, an effective treatment has to be applied.

Outcome of Interest

The purpose of the treatment is to address the patient’s depression and improve their overall quality of life. The symptoms of the condition can impair one’s functioning, particularly at the levels explored in the project. However, even if they are addressed, the medications may not resolve the underlying causes, leaving the patient troubled and likely to relapse. As such, quality of life improvement is also a critical indicator in the treatment of adolescent depression.


As mentioned above, depression is associated with long-term issues that may manifest a considerable time after treatment concludes. Additionally, Rith-Najaran et al. (2019) find that CBT is effective at addressing such problems in the long term, which is another of the method’s advantages. As such, considering a 6-month timeframe for the project is reasonable, given the constraints placed on it and the goals it intends to achieve. It will help evaluate the long-term success of the treatment without incurring excessive time or resource costs.


Overall, CBT appears to be a promising treatment for moderate and severe depression for adolescents. It can be used alongside pharmacological treatments and has been shown to produce significant beneficial outcomes without the issues associated with drugs. As such, an investigation into its effectiveness for helping patients overcome depression and improve their general quality of life is warranted. The patients are selected because they may currently be served adequately by the medical system. The intervention can potentially produce better results than those used currently, which are used for the comparison. The outcomes measured indicate the patients’ long-term success in overcoming depression, and the timeframe reflects that. Overall, the aim of the project is to evaluate whether CBT can compound current treatments and address issues they may not necessarily cover.


Keles, S., & Idsoe, T. (2018). A meta-analysis of group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions for adolescents with depression. Journal of Adolescence, 67, 129-139.

Rith-Najarian, L. R., Mesri, B., Park, A. L., Sun, M., Chavira, D. A., & Chorpita, B. F. (2019). Durability of cognitive behavioral therapy effects for youth and adolescents with anxiety, depression, or traumatic stress: A meta-analysis on long-term follow-ups. Behavior Therapy, 50(1), 225-240.

Strawn, J. R., Dobson, E. T., & Giles, L. L. (2017). Primary pediatric care psychopharmacology: focus on medications for ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 47(1), 3-14.

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NursingBird. (2022, June 7). Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration. Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2022, June 7). Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration.

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"Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration." NursingBird, 7 June 2022,


NursingBird. (2022) 'Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration'. 7 June.


NursingBird. 2022. "Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration." June 7, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration." June 7, 2022.


NursingBird. "Depression: PICOT Question Component Exploration." June 7, 2022.