2007). A teenager who uses drugs or alcohol as escape mechanisms might need to cease their addictive behaviors before symptoms are relieved, because some drugs and alcohol exacerbate pre-existing depression and increase the risk of suicide (Van Voorhees 2007).
Van Voorhees (2007) also points out that some physical illnesses can create symptoms that mimic depression and so doctors should perform a litany of blood tests to make more accurate diagnoses of depression. Some physiological diseases can cause cognitive or emotional impairment. Leaping into a situation in which an adolescent is labeled as being mentally ill can have a deleterious effect: creating an even lower sense of self-esteem and a bleaker outlook on life than the teenager already has.
The medications most commonly prescribed to teenagers diagnosed with clinical depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. Antidepressants are not "miracle cures" and as many as one in every three persons in the general population taking antidepressants does not experience any symptom relief (Smith, Jaffe, & Segal 2007). Moreover, Smith, Jaffe & Segal (2007) point out that SSRI antidepressants might yield unwanted side effects like "increased hostility, agitation, and anxiety." Commonly experienced physical side-effects include nausea, insomnia, fatigue, and headaches (Smith, Jaffe & Segal 2007). An older class of antidepressants called tricyclic antidepressants work not just on limiting serotonin reuptake but also norepinephrine and dopamine and so side-effects may be even more severe than those experienced when taking SSRI antidepressants. Because their effect on the teenage brain could be severe, the tricyclic class of antidepressants have not been approved for adolescent patients (Van Voorhees 2007). A third major class of antidepressants include Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOAIs), which are correlated with even more severe side effects than tricyclic antidepressants.
Non-pharmacological methods of treating depression in teenagers includes family counseling and one-on-one counseling. Family counseling is usually helpful for placing the adolescent's behavior in context, revealing possible root causes for the onset of the illness and pointing to possible long-term solutions that involve core changes to lifestyle and parent-child interaction. Often parents hasten a diagnosis of depression for their teenage child without taking responsibility for their role as primary caregivers. Family counseling can help parents see where they might be neglecting their teenagers' needs, such as during a divorce or another stressful life event. Adolescent depression is often related to environmental triggers like stressful life events, and talking about those events in the safe setting of a counselor's office can help the teen and his or her parents address their emotions freely. Individual therapy is also helpful in providing an outlet for the depressed teenager. The adolescent may feel more comfortable sharing his or her thoughts with a professional therapist than with a parent or a friend.
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