Family Medicine

Treatment of Childhood and Adolescent Depression

Abstract

Major depressive disorder in children and adolescents is a common condition that affects physical, emotional, and social development. Risk factors include a family history of depression, parental conflict, poor peer relationships, deficits in coping skills, and negative thinking. Diagnostic criteria are the same for children and adults, with the exception that children and adolescents may express irritability rather than sad or depressed mood, and weight loss may be viewed in terms of failure to reach appropriate weight milestones. Treatment must take into account the severity of depression, suicidality, developmental stage, and environmental and social factors. Cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy are recommended for patients with mild depression and are appropriate adjuvant treatments to medication in those with moderate to severe depression. Pharmacotherapy is recommended for patients with moderate or severe depression. Tricyclic antidepressants are not effective in children and adolescents. Antidepressants have a boxed warning for the increased risk of suicide; therefore, careful assessment, follow-up, safety planning, and patient and family education should be included when treatment is initiated.

Citation

Clark, M. S., Jansen, K. L., Cloy, J.A. (2012). Treatment of Childhood and Adolescent Depression. American Family Physician.

PubMed
PMID: 22963063