Assessment of Symptom Network Density as a Prognostic Marker of Treatment Response in Adolescent Depression.

22 Jun 2018

One in four depressed adolescents does not respond favourably to treatment.1 Prognostic markers to identify this non-responder group are lacking and urgently needed.2 It has been suggested that the network structure of depressive symptoms (i.e. group-level covariance or connectivity between symptoms) may be informative in this regard. Intuitively, one may expect that more densely connected networks would be more inclined to result in negative spirals (e.g. sleeplessness → too tired to go out → lack of friends → sadness) and therefore more liable to non-response. In an influential naturalistic study published in this journal, adult patients with depression who would in subsequent years continue to experience problems had more densely connected networks at baseline compared to patients who would later recover.3 Here we perform a conceptual replication of this work in a sample of depressed adolescents participating in a psychological treatment trial. We tested whether network characteristics at baseline predicted differences in long-term outcomes.