María Paz García-Vera

Complutense University of Madrid, Spain



In my talk, I will analyze the veracity of six ideas about child and adolescent depression and its treatment that are defended in media widely available on the Internet or in some prestigious clinical practice guidelines or manuals of psychopathology or psychiatry. These ideas hinder children and adolescents’ access to appropriate treatment for their depression and favor the medicalization of this treatment over the use of psychotherapy. I will contrast those ideas with the results of the scientific literature. A review of this literature indicates that, contrary to those ideas: 1) depression is considered a mental disorder, not a mental illness; 2) the existence of a biological cause is simply a hypothesis, not a reality proven empirically in an unequivocal manner; 3) negative life events increase the risk of depression; 4) psychotherapy cures depression; 5) psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy for children and adolescents and interpersonal therapy for adolescents, is the treatment of first choice for child and adolescent depression over antidepressant medication, and both when the depression is mild and when it is moderate or severe, and 6) psychotherapy for depression in children and adolescents is usually a short-term treatment. Finally, I will discuss those ideas and the results of scientific literature in the context of the reliability of the health information on the Internet as well as in the context of the need for and difficulties in transmitting health information based on existing scientific knowledge no only to general population but also to the professionals in charge of the mental health of children and adolescents.

María Paz García-Vera is Professor of Child-Youth Clinical Psychology in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Clinical Psychology at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). She created the University Clinic of Psychology of the UCM and, for 16 years, she was its Director. She received the degree of Specialist in Clinical Psychology from the Spanish Ministry of Education and of Health, and the European Certificate of Specialist Expertise in Psychotherapy from the European Federation of Psychologists Associations (EFPA). She served as executive President of the Spanish Society for the Advancement of Health and Clinical Psychology (SEPCyS) and was a member of the Deontological Commission of the Spanish Psychological Association at Madrid. Currently, she serves as President of the Division 6 (Clinical and Community Psychology) of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS). Prof. García-Vera has a long academic and research career. She has published more than 110 scientific papers, including books, chapters in books and journal articles, has presented more than 120 oral communications and posters in national and international scientific congresses, and has participated in or directed more than 40 granted or funded research projects. Her main lines of research are the analysis of the psychopathological consequences of terrorist attacks and their psychological treatment as well as the role of cognitive-behavioral therapies in primary care and, especially, in anxiety and depression disorders. Recently, she coauthored with Prof. Jesús Sanz the book entitled “Tratamiento de los trastornos depresivos y de ansiedad en niños y adolescentes. De la investigación a la consulta” (“Treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. From research to clinical practice”, 2016, Madrid: Pirámide).