The goal of treatment is to improve the symptoms, prevent the illness from returning and help the young person lead a normal life. Families play an important role in recognising the illness, supporting young person through treatment and also preventing the illness from coming back. It is therefore very important that you understand the condition.
Depending on how depression is affecting your child, how severe it is, they may need different treatments. When they have severe symptoms or have difficulties like having serious suicidal thoughts or other risky behaviours, they may need medications and also sometimes admission to hospital.
Psychological or talking treatments and medication, both may have an important role in treatment of this condition.
Talking treatments (also known as ‘psychotherapies’)
Psychological therapies like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or ‘interpersonal therapy’ may be tried before considering other possibilities such as medication. However, this can depend upon the individual’s illness or their personal circumstances.
Certain antidepressant medications, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been shown to be beneficial to children and adolescents with severe depression.
Medication once started should not be stopped suddenly. Medication may be needed for months or even years. Some people may, under medical supervision, be able to stop their medication when they have recovered and have felt well for a while.
They may need physical examinations and tests (like blood tests) before starting the treatment, or while on medication. It is important that if the young person is prescribed medication that they are seen regularly by their doctor or psychiatrist.
There are side-effects to medication, some of which can be quite serious. The psychiatrist will be able to advise you about what they are and about what can be done to help. The risk of side-effects needs to be balanced against the risk of the damaging effects of the illness on a person's life.
No young person should be taking medication unless they are reviewed regularly by a health professional. This is to monitor the dose of the drug and to check for side-effects.