Specific treatment for major depression will be determined by your child's doctor based on:
Your child's age, overall health and medical history
Extent of symptoms
Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Mood disorders, including major depression, can be effectively treated. Treatment should always be based on a comprehensive evaluation of the child and family. Treatment may include one, or more, of the following:
- Antidepressant medications: Research shows that, when combined with psychotherapy, these drugs can be very effective in the treatment of depression in children and teens. These medications work by rebalancing the chemicals in the brain. Teens should be watched closely for suicidal ideation during the first few months after starting antidepressant medications.
- Psychotherapy: Most often cognitive-behavioral and/or interpersonal therapy for the teen is helpful. The focus is on changing the teen’s distorted views of themselves and the environment around them; working through difficult relationships; identifying stressors in the adolescent's environment and learning how to avoid them.
- Consultation with the child’s school
Parents play a vital supportive role in any treatment process. For many reasons, many parents of children with depression never seek the appropriate treatment for their child. However, approximately 80 percent of all people with major depression who do seek treatment improve, usually within weeks. Continued treatment may help to prevent reoccurrence of the depressive symptoms.
Without appropriate treatment, symptoms of depression can persist for weeks, months or years. In addition to causing interpersonal and psychosocial problems, depression in adolescents is also linked with an increased risk for suicide. Depression often also gets worse if left untreated.
Suicide risk rises, particularly among teen boys, when the depression is accompanied by other mental health disorders (conduct disorder, substance abuse). It is crucial for parents and care providers of teens to take all depressive and suicidal symptoms very seriously and seek treatment immediately.
Suicide is a medical emergency. Consult your child's doctor for more information.