No one therapist is a miracle worker, and no one treatment works for everyone. Talk therapy is often a good initial treatment for mild to moderate cases of depression. Unfortunately, some parents feel pushed into choosing antidepressant medication over other treatments that may be cost-prohibitive or time-intensive. In all cases, antidepressants are most effective when part of a broader treatment plan.
Depressive Disorder in Highly Gifted Adolescents
Antidepressants were designed and tested on adults, so their impact on young, developing brains is not yet fully understood. Some researchers are concerned that exposure to drugs such as Prozac may interfere with normal brain development—particularly the way the brain manages stress and regulates emotion. Antidepressants also come with risks and side effects of their own , including a number of safety concerns specific to children and young adults. They are also known to increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in some teenagers and young adults.
Teens with bipolar disorder , a family history of bipolar disorder, or a history of previous suicide attempts are particularly vulnerable. The risk of suicide is highest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment. Teenagers on antidepressants should be closely monitored for any sign that the depression is getting worse.
Be understanding. Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation, or any other number of negative emotions. Your teen is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding. Stay involved in treatment.
Be patient. Rejoice in small victories and prepare for the occasional setback. As a parent, you may find yourself focusing all your energy and attention on your depressed teen and neglecting your own needs and the needs of other family members. Above all, this means reaching out for much needed support. Having your own support system in place will help you stay healthy and positive as you work to help your teen.
Reach out to friends, join a support group, or see a therapist of your own. Look after your health.
Be open with the family. Kids know when something is wrong.
When left in the dark, their imaginations will often jump to far worse conclusions. Be open about what is going on and invite your children to ask questions and share their feelings. Remember the siblings.
Siblings may need special individual attention or professional help of their own to handle their feelings about the situation. Avoid the blame game. About Teen Suicide — Risk factors, warnings signs, and how to get help. Warning Signs of Youth Violence — Why some teenagers turn violent. American Psychological Association. Treatment of Children with Mental Illness — Treatment of mental disorders in children, including depression.
National Institute of Mental Health. In the U. Authors: Melinda Smith, M. Last updated: June Sadness or hopelessness Irritability, anger, or hostility Tearfulness or frequent crying Withdrawal from friends and family Loss of interest in activities Poor school performance Changes in eating and sleeping habits. Restlessness and agitation Feelings of worthlessness and guilt Lack of enthusiasm and motivation Fatigue or lack of energy Difficulty concentrating Unexplained aches and pains Thoughts of death or suicide. Get help for a suicidal teen If you suspect that a teenager is suicidal, take immediate action!
Other resources. American Psychological Association Treatment of Children with Mental Illness — Treatment of mental disorders in children, including depression. Connolly, C. Resting-state functional connectivity of subgenual anterior cingulate cortex in depressed adolescents. Psychiatry 74, — Cooney, G. Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database Syst.
Cooney, R. Neural correlates of rumination in depression. Costello, E. Prevalence and development of psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence. Psychiatry 60, — Cox, G. Psychological therapies versus antidepressant medication, alone and in combination for depression in children and adolescents. Craig, A. How do you feel—now? The anterior insula and human awareness. Significance of the insula for the evolution of human awareness of feelings from the body. Cramer, S. Harnessing neuroplasticity for clinical applications.
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