Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teens and Depression: What You Should Know.

Depression is on the rise amongst teens and effective treatment options remain daunting. Depression affects approximately 6% of female teenagers and about 4.6% of male teens. Young people who suffer from depression also suffer from functional impairment (poor academic performance or poor self-care), higher suicide (or suicide attempt) rates, and higher rates of depression in their adulthood. A new study dampens expectations of successful depression treatment for teenagers — finding that depression returns in most teens that undergo treatment.

John Curry, Ph.D. of the Duke University Medical Center and colleagues found that 46.6% of teenagers treated for depression using three different (short-term) treatment interventions including medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a combination of the two are expected to experience a recurrence of depression.  
Dr. Curry and his colleagues also discovered that teens who experienced a combination of depression with anxiety disorder were 61.9% more likely to have clinical levels of symptom recurrence. These teens also had higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, alerting all of us that anxiously depressed young people are at greater suicide risk.   

The study also found that teens who received no treatment or short-term treatment were more likely to have a relapse of depression after a two year period. The results of this research impress upon parents and practitioners, a need to include recurrence prevention in the discharge planning for these young people. Prevention efforts would include symptom/medication monitoring and cognitive behavioral booster sessions beyond an 18-week maintenance period.  

If you are a teenager suffering from depression, talk to your parents or a trusted adult. They can help you find the help you need to get through this difficult time. If you are a parent concerned about your child, seek professional help if symptoms persist beyond two weeks or if you have any reason to believe your child is considering suicide.

If you live in the Sacramento area you can contact Dr. Leona Kashersky at (916) 595-7233 or email her at
visit our website at

The article appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Source: JAMA


  1. I think this is a great resource for parents; helping them understand that depression cannot always be classified as a "phase" is a big issue and I'm glad to see it is being brought to light.

  2. Thank you Brittney. I appriciate the feedback. You're right, it's certainly not always a 'phase'. If a child or adult experiences symptoms of depression for more then two weeks, there's a good chance they need intervention. And of course, anyone considering suicide as an option to escape a temporary period of depression should seek professional help.

  3. Recurrence prevention is a key to the success in fighting depression. I've battled with depression and know first-hand that it is difficult to shake. One doesn't just get over it, like it's a cold. It takes work to feel good. Kudos, Leona.

  4. Thank you for sharing your own personal experience Jim. And you're right, it's not always easy to treat or battle depression. I'm really happy to hear you're on top of your own self-care. Kudos to you, Jim!

  5. This is a very relevant and timely subject. In some of the depression and suicide cases that have touched my own personal life it seems intervention, even the slightest intervention, has meant the difference between life and death. Articles such as this one are valuable because they help us become aware of the problem and teach us what we can look for and how we can help. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Yes, I think depression is a very timely subject. With winter here and the holidays right around the corner, depression rates are on the rise right now. When humans have less sun exposure, we tend to experience depressed moods. For some of us, this seasonal depression can reach clinical levels, resulting in loss of functioning or sadly, suicidal thoughts or behavior. During this time of year, we are further away from the sun, we exercise less, and we spend more time indoors. These factors are a recipe for depression (for those vulnerable to it). Compounding the depression recipe inherent in the winter season, is the seasonal holiday trip to visit family. For some, these are joyous visits with many fond memories created and shared. For others, these trips home or visits with family can bring up pressures and stress. If one is dealing with loss, sometimes the holidays can bring up feelings of isolation, i.e. death, divorce, or moving.