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Antidepressant Rx: Careful Monitoring Needed

Patients need close follow-up for treatment of clinical depression.

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Talk to the child's doctor about monitoring symptoms, Fassler advises. "During initial phases of treatment, children should be seen more frequently. If the child's behavior has not started to change after a couple of weeks, call the doctor, ask 'What should I do?'"

Some kids will tell their parents about thoughts of suicide, he says. "Some will tell a friend. Usually, if someone's thinking about suicide, they will tell somebody. That's why it's important that they see a doctor frequently, so they can talk about these things."

6) Learn the system.

Managed care companies now recognize the need for mental health treatment, Feinberg tells WebMD. "The number of visits may be limited, but I think managed care has done a good job in increasing access to treatment."

However, there may be some difficulty getting coverage for a psychiatrist's care, he adds. Patients may have to pay out of pocket, or sign up for a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan, to get coverage for a psychiatrist's care.

Privacy should not be an issue, Feinberg emphasizes. Don't be concerned that an employer could find out you are using mental health benefits. "It's against the law for a mental health provider or insurance company to let an employer know you have received mental health services," he says. New federal regulations have reinforced that privacy.

Also, most large employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that provide limited visits -- for adults and family members -- with a mental health professional.

Access to treatment for clinical depression has improved in recent years, Feinberg tells WebMD. "If you need therapy, you will get therapy."

Originally published May 10, 2004.
Medically updated September 2004.

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