Anthony Pothacamury

Cognitive Flexibility as a Predictor of Treatment Response to Participatory Arts in Adolescents with Depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common, debilitating condition among adolescents, with prevalence dramatically rising over the past few decades. The onset of MDD during adolescence is associated with deficits in all facets of an individual’s life, posing long-term implications. Furthermore, due to the heterogeneous nature of MDD, there is a lack of empirical evidence to guide clinicians in choosing the most effective treatment for a particular adolescent with MDD, resulting in modest response rates. Therefore, this study explores whether cognitive flexibility can predict treatment response to a novel participatory arts intervention in adolescents with depression. This research centers on an 8-day Creativity Camp, utilizing participatory arts to enhance flexible thinking in adolescents with depression. Cognitive flexibility, assessed through the Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT), and depressive symptoms, measured via the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI), were evaluated pre-camp, post-camp, and at a 6-month follow-up. Preliminary findings suggest a notable link between cognitive flexibility and short-term changes in adolescent CDI scores (r = -0.35, p = .03). However, this association didn't persist over the long term, indicating limited predictive value of cognitive flexibility for sustained benefits. In conclusion, while cognitive flexibility may predict short-term responses to participatory arts interventions in adolescents with depression, its reliability in forecasting enduring outcomes appears restricted. These initial insights underscore the potential for cognitive flexibility as an early indicator for short-term treatment response, prompting further research to refine predictive models for long-term therapeutic efficacy.