Treatment for major depression will be advised by your child’s doctor based on:
- Your child’s age, overall health and history
- Extent of symptoms
- Your child’s tolerance for certain medicines, procedures or therapies
- What is expected for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or what you prefer
Mood disorders, like major depression, can be effectively treated. Treatment should always be based on a full evaluation of the child and family. Treatment may include one, or more, of these:
- Antidepressant medicines. Research shows that, when combined with psychotherapy, these drugs can be very effective in the treatment of depression in children and teens. These medicines work by rebalancing the chemicals in the brain. Anyone taking antidepressants should be watched closely for suicidal ideation during the first few months after starting these.
- Psychotherapy. Most often cognitive behavioral and/or interpersonal therapy is helpful. The focus is on:
- Changing distorted views of themselves and the environment around them
- Working through difficult relationships
- Identifying stressors in the environment and learning how to avoid them
- Family therapy
- Consults with the school
Parents play a vital role in any treatment process. For many reasons, many parents of children with depression never seek the needed treatment for their child. But, around 80 percent of all people with major depression who do seek treatment will improve, most often within weeks. Continued treatment may help to prevent the depressive symptoms from coming back.
Without the right treatment, symptoms of depression can last for weeks, months or years. This can cause interpersonal and psychosocial problems. Depression in teens is also linked with an increased risk for suicide. Depression often gets worse if left untreated.
Suicide risk rises, even more so in teen boys, when the depression occurs with 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. Seek treatment right away for any symptoms.
Suicide is a medical emergency. Consult your child’s doctor for more information.