Teen depression treatment

Teenagers are by nature a moody bunch. Yours is probably not an exception to that rule. They can be rude, mercurial and angry for many reasons, and at times for no apparent reason at all. Parents all know this is true, but when it happens with your own teen, it can be difficult to know what is normal and what is a signal that help may be needed.

You remember the days when your child was brimming with joy about the events of her life. You hope that she still feels this way, but wonder if she does, or, for that matter, if she will ever share that joy with you again. You question whether she might be depressed. You are looking for direction and evaluation, and if necessary depression treatment for your teen.

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Depression is common in the adolescent years:
We live in an increasingly stressful world, and depression is a common reaction to that stress. The good news is, depression treatment is available. The focus of teen depression treatment will vary depending on the nature of your teen's depression, their strengths, and the challenges that confront them.
 
A blue mood is not depression: Like many things, depression exists on a continuum. Teen depression treatment exists on a continuum, too. A blue mood or a bad week is little more than a sign that your son or daughter might want to slow down a bit and take stock of what is happening in his or her life. With the pressure on teens today, however, this notion is likely to feel close to impossible to them. But stress is a major contributor to depression. Good stress management is an essential life skill that contributes to resilience and can bolster us in the face of potential depression.

So whether slowing down comes in the form of a yoga class, meditation podcasts or a walk in the park, it is important to do. If your stressed teen isn’t convinced, talk with him or her about the bursts of creativity that come as a result of hitting the obligation off-switch for a time. This has a specific impact on the brain that helps mood, problem solving and creativity for all of us. If you are interested in learning more, read my blog post about the value of downregulating the frontal lobes.

Adjustment disorders begin as a reaction to stress: If your teen experiences a dip in mood or increased irritability in reaction to a specific disappointment or stressful event, and if that dip in mood stays a while, he or she may be experiencing an adjustment disorder. An adjustment disorder with depression and/or anxiety occurs within months of a stressful event, and is expected to resolve within months of the resolution of the stressor. While adjustment disorders often do get better on their own, talking to trusted adults can help a teen manage and learn from the experience. Just because an adjustment disorder can improve without professional intervention does not mean teens with adjustment disorders should be left to get better on their own. Teen depression treatment at this stage is an opportunity to take stock, to learn life skills that will be useful now and in the future. And since a small percentage of people with an adjustment disorder are vulnerable to the development of a major depression, it is important to keep an eye on mood and learn new skills so the depression can be managed as well as possible.

Ten percent of adolescents met diagnostic criteria for Major Depression in 2013: Major depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the US. It is defined as a period of two or more weeks marked by loss of interest, depressed mood (or in teens, irritability), and a change in sleep, appetite, energy, perception of the self and, at times, suicidal ideation. Teens are not exempt from this diagnosis, in fact NIMH statistics indicate that in 2013 approximately 2.6 million young people between ages of 12 and 17 met the diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode. That figure represents 10% of the adolescent population. Intervening in a major depression is critical, as it can preserve a teen’s ability to navigate the critical developmental tasks of their age. While many teens with major depression may need to be prescribed an antidepressant medication, there is substantial literature indicating that the combination of medication and psychotherapy is most helpful in resolving a major depression.

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Irritability or depression: While many teens look sad when they are depressed, others appear more short-tempered, irritable and quick to anger. This fact sometimes makes depression difficult for families to recognize.

Teen Depression Treatment:
Depression treatment evaluation: When I provide teen depression treatment, I will begin with a careful assessment of how your teen is functioning in all aspects of life. Your teen and I will talk about family, school, social, extra-curricular and the virtual world our digital native kids are so at home in today. I will learn about their sleep patterns and their stress. We will have a frank discussion about substances, and arrange for referral should substance treatment be indicated. My teen depression treatment evaluation will also consider issues of sexuality and gender identity. Your son or daughter's pediatrician will be enlisted to complete a physical, and to manage any medical condition that may be contributing to their depressed mood.

Depression treatment: As I get to know your teen, and we work together to develop a supportive treatment relationship, I will also learn about their strengths. Together we will create an individualized depression treatment plan that works on two levels—that of enhancing and developing skills and tools, and that of self-knowledge and insight. We will work together to find and reinforce healthy and balanced choices that bolster their ability to manage in a stressful world. Our work will

·         Develop a common understanding of the factors that led to their depression

·         Uncover and evaluate their typical emotional reactions to challenges and stress

·         Considers the ways in which depression and stress creep into their thinking

·         Manages the stress and depression reactions in their body

Teen depression treatment focuses on helping adolescents learn their strengths and manage their challenges. The overarching goals include enhancing and building on their skills, while also developing curiosity about the life they are leading today and the future they are working to cultivate.

Did I cause my teen to become depressed?
The more we know about genetics, the more we understand that most conditions with genetic underpinnings are truly epigenetic in nature. This means that the environment and genes interact—sometimes causing a vulnerable person to become depressed because of stressors, trauma or family challenges. This also means that intervening with individuals who may have genetic vulnerabilities to depression or other conditions can keep them from developing those disorders by helping them cultivate life skills. It can be difficult to tease out clear causes of depression because the cause is often multi-factorial. It is important to know that teen depression treatment can be quite helpful in restoring healthy functioning.

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Will I be part of my teen's depression treatment?
Parents typically participate in the evaluation stage of treatment, and check in periodically as treatment progresses. I will see your son or daughter for individual psychotherapy. He or she has the right to private, confidential communication with me. This means that some of the issues we discuss will stay between us and that I will not disclose that information to anyone, including you, unless given permission by your son or daughter to do so. This will help your teen be open and honest with me so that I can understand and treat the full range of issues he or she is dealing with.

I recognize it is very important for you to know what your teen is going through in order to do your job as a loving parent, which is why I will always encourage, prepare and support him or her to be open and honest with you. I assure you that if a problem comes up in treatment that presents a risk to your adolescent’s safety I will inform you right away so that we can, together, plan for his or her care.

What if you decide family therapy is necessary?
I do not provide family therapy myself, but have a number of trusted colleagues who do. I will gladly make any necessary referrals for family therapy, or will work in consultation with the family therapist of your choosing.

I would be glad to talk with you about depression treatment for teens and young adults. Please feel free to call me at 503-490-5793.

 


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