September 22, 2014

Brief mindset intervention reduces depression

A low-cost, one-time intervention that educates teens about the changeable nature of personality traits may prevent an increase in depressive symptoms often seen during the transition to high school, according to new research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

These findings are important, says psychological scientist and lead researcher David Scott Yeager of the University of Texas at Austin, because so few interventions have successfully prevented the onset of depressive symptoms among high schoolers. But Yeager cautions that the intervention is not a "magic bullet" for depression and requires further testing.

"We were amazed that a brief exposure to the message that people can change, during a key transition—the first few weeks of high school—could prevent increases in symptoms of depression," says Yeager. "It doesn't come close to solving the whole problem. Yet finding anything promising has the potential to be important because prevention is far better than treatment—not only for financial reasons but also because it avoids human suffering."

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