sooner treatment begins for depression, the sooner your child is likely
to recover. Waiting to seek treatment for depression may mean a longer and
more difficult recovery.
Treatment generally includes professional
counseling, medicines, and education about depression
for your child and your family.
Home treatment is an important
part of treating depression. It includes regular exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep.
Professional counseling for depression includes several types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy. For more information about counseling, see the Other Treatment section of this topic.
Medicines used to treat childhood
depression include several types of drugs called antidepressants.
An important part of treatment is making
sure that your child takes medicines as prescribed. Often people who feel better
after taking an antidepressant for a period of time may feel like they are
"cured" and no longer need treatment. But when medicine is stopped too early, symptoms
usually return. So it is important that your child follows the treatment
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide
Before prescribing medicine, your doctor will check your child for possible suicidal
thoughts by asking a few questions. See a list of
questions your doctor may ask your child.
Education of your child and family members can be provided by
a doctor either informally or in family therapy. Some of the most important
things that your child and family members can learn include:
- Knowing how to make sure a child is following
a treatment plan, such as taking medicine correctly and going to counseling
- Learning ways to reduce stress caused by living with
someone who has depression.
- Knowing the signs of a relapse and what
to do to prevent depression from recurring.
- Knowing the signs of
suicidal behavior, how to evaluate their seriousness, and how to
- Learning how to identify signs of a manic episode, which
is a bout of extremely high mood and energy, or irritability that is a sign of
- Seeking treatment if you
are a parent with depression. If a parent's depression goes
untreated, it may interfere with the recovery of the child.
Your child may need treatment for other disorders that may be causing ongoing symptoms, such as:
A brief hospital stay may be needed, especially if your
your child is depressed, consider removing all guns and potentially fatal
medicines from your home, especially if your child has shown any warning signs
of suicide. Although overdosing on medicine is the most common way that teens
attempt suicide, your child is at higher risk for completing a suicide if you
have a gun in your home, particularly if it is easy to get to it or if you
store it loaded.6