A combination of medication and counselling can provide the most effective treatment for a teenager suffering from depression.
The advent of modern antidepressant medication has been a lifesaver to many. Recent research demonstrates that a
combination of counselling and medication can provide the most
effective treatment for youth suffering from depression. However, there
is evidence to suggest that in the early stages of medication
treatment, there is an elevated risk of suicidal thought, which for
some persons may lead to suicidal behaviour. This is causing a great many people to reconsider their use of medication, even when indicated.
This issue is determining which youth will benefit from one or the
other or both treatments. To this end a good assessment will look for exogenous factors and endogenous factors.
Exogenous factors are those things outside of the individual that may contribute to depression. These include; family dysfunction, abuse or neglect, parental separation, school related problems and relationship problems. If it can be determined that one or more of these kinds of factors are at play, then counselling alone may be sufficient to treat depression. Such counselling includes family therapy, or in the case of separated and fighting parents, mediation to help them resolve their conflict, so that the youth is no longer subject to their turmoil. If the youth is in a difficult interpersonal relationship, then counselling for the youth to address the difficulty may be in
order. If the youth is abused or neglected, these issues must be
addressed and the youth's safety must be attained.
Endogenous factors generally relate to biological
or neurobiochemical factors. If there is a history of depression in the
family and there are no known endogenous factors, then medication alone
may be the treatment of choice. Often though, with endogenous
depression, the sufferer has difficulty controlling depressive thoughts
and as such, in this situation a very specific form of counselling, CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is also indicated.
There are times of course when both endogenous and exogenous factors
are at play. In these circumstances a combination of counselling and
medication could be in order and should seriously be considered.
Parents and youth are cautioned against making their
decision solely on the basis of newspaper articles proclaiming the good
or the bad about any treatment. Depression is a serious disorder, which
left untreated can lead to suicidal thoughts, action, injury and death.
If you or your child is depressed, obtain a good assessment by
qualified professionals that will look at both endogenous and exogenous
factors and devise a treatment plan accordingly. Further, the
counsellor and the prescribing physician should be working
hand-in-glove following the individual to manage safety issues and
communicating regularly about progress.
It is important to know that with antidepressant medication,
it can take a good thirty days before the therapeutic effect is
achieved. During this time, counselling may be of benefit to resolve
other issues as listed above or to simply provide support until the
medication reaches effectiveness.
If you or your child is depressed, get help. It is often advisable to
start with your family doctor or community clinic. A physician can make
the diagnosis and direct you to treatment.
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