Depression in children and adolescents is a very real and serious issue. Many perceive depression as being a disease that only strikes adults. They perceive any depression symptoms in young children as simple moods or phases that they will eventually get over. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, by the tender age of 18, as much as 11 percent of all adolescents are already suffering from or would have previously had depression. Some of the many symptoms of adolescent and child depression include hostility, irritability, and a lack of focus, low energy levels, a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and an increased emotional vulnerability to failure. Some adolescents may even be driven to abusing alcohol or drugs and even attempting suicide. Because of the seriousness of the issue, many forms of treatment have been developed to treat juvenile depression.
Psychosocial therapies are designed to give young depression patient guidance and support through “talk therapy.” These kinds of sessions are meant to explore a patient’s past, emotional problems, feelings, relationships, and thoughts. With the help of a licensed psychiatrist, young children and adolescents will be able to learn more about the reasons behind their depression. This technique is also helpful in getting them to learn how to open up to another person and put their trust in them. There are different kinds of psychotherapies that depend on the specific case of a patient. Sessions may also be conducted either by an individual or in a family or group. Psychosocial therapy is one of the leading and most widely recommended forms of treatment for any kind of depression.
One possible and prominent cause of juvenile depression is trauma. A traumatic experience can cause severe depression in both children and adolescents. Exposure therapy targets this traumatic source and aims to help young patients overcome their distress over it. A patient is exposed to whatever may have caused his or her trauma in a controlled environment. They are then taught techniques and methods to help overcome their feelings and reactions. Exposure therapy also works for obsessive compulsive disorder, which has been known to be a sign of depression, especially in very young children. This form of therapy is very helpful in discouraging depressive behavior and helping patients directly tackle their emotional issues.
A juvenile depression treatment that has only recently been discovered is music. Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast learned that music can effectively increase children’s confidence and self-esteem, while drastically reducing the effects of depression. They were also able to communicate more properly and developed better social skills. It is believed that the effectiveness of music therapy lies in its aesthetic value, and in how this becomes a therapeutic aspect that helps patients feel more optimistic. More research is now going into the nature of music therapy and how it can be designed to become an even more effective form of treatment.
This form of treatment involves educating depressed children and their families about the symptoms of and nature of depression. During psycho education, families are taught how to spot severe depression bouts and what to do to help their children cope. This method also assures that children are following proper treatment guidelines. It teaches parents how to become aware of possibly dangerous behavior, especially suicidal tendencies, and how to respond to them. Psycho education is a good method for establishing trust between young patients and their families and assuring that their parents are properly equipped with the knowledge of how to help them overcome their sickness.