Complementary medicine is sometimes used for depression in adults. But there is no evidence that these therapies are safe for use by children or teens.2 They can interfere with other medicines, such as antidepressants. Always tell your doctor if you are using any complementary therapies.
Other treatment choices
- Types of counseling most often used to treat depression in children and teens are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps reduce negative patterns of thinking and encourages positive behaviors.
- Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on the child's relationships with others.
- Problem-solving therapy, which helps the child deal with current problems.
- Family therapy, which provides a place for the whole family to express fears and concerns and learn new ways of getting along.
- Play therapy, which is used with young children or children with developmental delays to help them cope with fears and anxieties. But there is no proof that this type of treatment reduces symptoms of depression.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an effective treatment for a teen or older child who is severely depressed or does not respond to other treatment, although this treatment is rarely used for children and teens. Even though it is an effective treatment for adults with major depression, there are currently no long-term studies on the safety of using ECT.2
What to think about
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implant for treatment of depression in adults. This device may be used when other treatments for depression have not worked.
A generator the size of a pocket watch is placed in the chest. Wires go up the neck from the generator to the vagus nerve. The generator sends tiny electric shocks through the vagus nerve to that part of the brain that is believed to play a role in mood.
More study is needed to see how well this works in children who have depression.