While we often think of depression as an illness affecting adults and adolescents, children can also experience depression. Treatment options for children include inpatient or outpatient therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy and antidepressant medication, as well as treatment for other psychiatric disorders that may contribute to depression. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are essential in cases of childhood depression.
Psychotherapy is essential to treat childhood and adolescent depression. A family therapist, child psychologist or child psychiatrist can provide therapy for children with depression. Talk therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy, family therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are all effective treatment options. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help children to develop a more positive outlook and relieve symptoms of depression, according to MayoClinic.com. While most children with depression benefit from outpatient treatment, inpatient therapy programs are an option for severely depressed children or those at risk of suicide or self-harm.
Antidepressant medications are often used along with therapy or if therapy alone has proven ineffective. While these medications carry some risks, for children with chronic depression, a family history of depression or inadequate access to therapy, treatment with antidepressants can be key to recovery. Your child should see a child psychiatrist if medications are required, and you should ensure that he takes medications as prescribed. Children with bipolar disorder, psychotic episodes or addiction issues may not be good candidates for antidepressant therapy.
Encourage your child to eat a varied and healthy diet to support mood and a positive outlook. Incorporate physical activities like walking, hiking or bike rides into your family’s lifestyle. Regular exercise can improve mental health. Remind her that she is loved and you are there to listen if she’d like. Encourage and support effort, but avoid telling her to snap out of it or treating it as a behavioral issue, recommends KidsHealth.org.