When Depressed Teens Can't or Won't Take Meds

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A new study shows that the families of over half the teens who are diagnosed with depression decide, for various reasons, not to start their children on medications. In addition, over half of the teens who do start on anti-depressants sometimes quickly make the decision themselves to stop the meds, citing side effects and lack of “results,” among other things.

Is it possible to achieve improvement in these cases?

Yes, says Dr. John F. Dickerson, lead author of the study and a health economist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. He and his team studied 112 depressed teens to find out if “talk therapy,” aka cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), was cost-effective in treating the kids.

They found that the talk therapy was effective in treating the depression without meds, and what’s more, the depression-related price tag (medical and mental health service fees, hospitalizations, for instance) for such teens averaged about $5000 less than for those who underwent traditional medicine-based therapies alone.

So don’t lose heart if you or your teen think treating their depression with meds is not a good choice for your family. There are other effective resources that don’t involve pharmaceuticals!

Here’s a good source of information about teen depression, including some non-threatening questions for teens.

Since 1992, Dr. Robinson has worked in a variety counseling positions. She is also a popular author and speaker on topics ranging from childhood development and sexuality, teen issues, family dynamics including caring for elderly relatives, and church resources for families.

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