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How is teen depression treated?

Teen depression is a treatable medical problem. Combination treatment is most effective and may include:

  • Depression medications to relieve symptoms
  • Talk therapy or counseling to help teens learn new coping skills

Medications usually include antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. SSRIs that have been studied for teen depression include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

Talk therapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, professionals help teens learn how to change destructive patterns of thinking.

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that teaching positive thinking may prevent depression in at-risk teens. Researchers found that teens can learn skills to keep negative thoughts from escalating into depression.

If a teen has severe depression, the doctor may admit the teen to a hospital for observation and treatment.

Can teen depression lead to suicide?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens and young adults in the U.S.

When depression goes untreated, teens may think suicide is the only answer. Feelings of hopelessness may lead to impulsive but deadly acts.

Are there warning signs of teen suicide?

Four out of 5 teens who attempt suicide give clear-cut signs. Here are warning signs every parent must know:

  • Obsessing about death
  • Open suicide threats
  • Writing poems or drawing about death
  • A change in appearance or mood
  • Defiant behavior
  • Acting violently
  • Feelings of guilt
  • A change in sleep or eating habits
  • Giving away belongings
  • Staying away from people and activities

If your teen hints of suicide, seek help immediately. Never hesitate to call a suicide hotline or go to the ER.

You can call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to speak with a qualified professional.

With proper treatment and support, teens who consider suicide can get well and return to a healthy life.

Are there tips for parents of teens with depression?

Parenting a teen with depression is not easy. These tips may help:

  • Seek proper treatment. If your teen has emotions that seem abnormal, talk to your doctor. When teen depression goes undiagnosed and untreated, the teen may try to ease the feelings with drugs, alcohol, or suicide.
  • Get involved in family therapy. Family therapy can help the teen and family to understand depression. Therapy can help members learn coping skills to handle any moods or behaviors linked to depression.
  • Listen to your teen. Avoid offering advice. Instead, listen and try to uncover problems that may be upsetting your teen.
  • Make sure your teen has consistent bedtimes. A study from Columbia University Medical Center showed teens with earlier bedtimes get more sleep and have fewer cases of depression and thoughts of suicide. Teens should get around nine hours of sleep every night, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

Be aware of the FDA warning that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in teens with depression. Children and teens who are started on antidepressants should be monitored for these behaviors. Talk with your health care provider about any concerns you may have.

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