The efficacy of a new program (The Penn Prevention Program) to prevent depressive symptoms and alleviate associated deficits in academic achievement, peer relations, self-esteem, and behavior is reported in 69 ’at risk’ 10-13 year-old children evaluated in the Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Using cognitive-behavioral techniques proactively to teach coping strategies, children at risk of developing depression, based on level of symptoms and perception of parental conflict, showed significant reductions in depressive symptoms and improved classroom behavior. Benefits were sustained at 6-month follow-up, especially in children with higher risk factors, as compared to control groups. [1]

COMMENT. The authors hypothesize that children at risk for depression use skills learned in the Penn Prevention Program to deal with conflict and avoid depressive symptoms precipitated by interpersonal problems. This type of program could be important in children with ADDH and learning problems who are at increased risk of developing depressive symptoms associated with poor self esteem and academic failure.