Depression in Children and Teens
The sooner treatment begins for depression, the sooner your child is likely to recover. Waiting to seek treatment for depression may mean a longer and more difficult recovery.
Treatment generally includes professional counseling, medicines, and education about depression for your child and your family.
Home treatment is an important part of treating depression. It includes regular exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep.
Professional counseling for depression includes several types of therapy, such as Reference cognitive-behavioral therapy Opens New Window and Reference family therapy Opens New Window. For more information about counseling, see the Reference Other Treatment section of this topic.
Medicines used to treat childhood depression include several types of drugs called antidepressants.
An important part of treatment is making sure that your child takes medicines as prescribed. Often people who feel better after taking an antidepressant for a period of time may feel like they are "cured" and no longer need treatment. But when medicine is stopped too early, symptoms usually return. So it is important that your child follows the treatment plan.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Reference advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide
Before prescribing medicine, your doctor will check your child for possible suicidal thoughts by asking a few questions. See a list of Reference questions your doctor may ask your child.
Education of your child and family members can be provided by a doctor either informally or in family therapy. Some of the most important things that your child and family members can learn include:
- Knowing how to make sure a child is following a treatment plan, such as taking medicine correctly and going to counseling appointments.
- Learning ways to reduce stress caused by living with someone who has depression.
- Knowing the signs of a relapse and what to do to prevent depression from recurring.
- Knowing the signs of suicidal behavior, how to evaluate their seriousness, and how to respond.
- Learning how to identify signs of a manic episode, which is a bout of extremely high mood and energy, or irritability that is a sign of Reference bipolar disorder Opens New Window.
- Seeking treatment if you are a parent with depression. If a parent's depression goes untreated, it may interfere with the recovery of the child.
Your child may need treatment for other disorders that may be causing ongoing symptoms, such as:
- Reference Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Opens New Window.
- Reference Anxiety disorder Opens New Window.
- Reference Substance abuse Opens New Window.
A brief hospital stay may be needed, especially if your child:
- Is showing any Reference warning signs of suicide (such as talking about death or suicide and giving away belongings).
- Is so depressed that he or she becomes out of touch with reality (psychotic) or has Reference hallucinations Opens New Window or Reference delusions Opens New Window.
If your child is depressed, consider removing all guns and potentially fatal medicines from your home, especially if your child has shown any warning signs of suicide. Although overdosing on medicine is the most common way that teens attempt suicide, your child is at higher risk for completing a suicide if you have a gun in your home, particularly if it is easy to get to it or if you store it loaded.Reference 6
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference April 16, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry