What’s the most effective treatment for teen depression?
Many teenagers are moody. It’s a by-product of the hormone surge that comes with growing up and, fortunately for parents everywhere, it’s usually outgrown.
But when moodiness becomes major depression, it’s a different story. Depression can have a dramatic impact on daily lives, affecting relationships with others, level of motivation and day-to-day activities.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, and as many as 2 out of 100 young children and 8 out of 100 teens live with serious depression.
The ADAA defines major depression as having at least five depressive symptoms, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, suicidal thoughts, etc., for at least a two-week period.
So what’s the best method of helping a teen who is struggling with depression?
In a recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, researchers looked into the long-term effects of different treatment options in 465 British teens and pre-teens, aged 11-17 years, who were diagnosed with depression. The researchers focused on three different therapy treatments: cognitive behavioral therapy (hands on approach to problem-solving), short-term psychoanalytical therapy (uncovering deep feelings or thoughts), and brief psychological intervention (encouraging positive activities and combating loneliness).
After one year of treatments, the teens were reassessed, and the researchers found that all three psychological treatments were associated with an average 49-52 percent reduction in depression symptoms. There was no one “best” treatment, as all of the treatments had a positive effect on the teens.
“Teens should know that depression is a highly treatable illness and that there are many treatment options out there,” says Dr. Rhoda Gottfried, a child/adolescent psychiatrist with Advocate Medical Group Behavioral Health at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.
“This [study] is very promising and shows that at least two-thirds of teenagers may benefit from these psychiatric treatments, which in theory reduce the risk of recurrence,” study co-author Peter Fonagy said in a news release.
The researchers theorized that the different psychological treatments possibly have advantages for specific types of adolescent depression, and by targeting the treatments more precisely, it may deliver more successful therapy.
“In general, depression is highly responsive to most treatments,” says Dr. Gottfried.
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