Child and Teen Depression: Who Has It

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Depression in teens is very common. 20% of teens will suffer from depression by the end of their teenage years

Depression is the leading cause of suicide. In a national survey of high school students, nearly 20% of teens thought about attempting suicide, and more than 8% made a suicide attempt. Over half of all kids who suffer from depression will eventually attempt suicide at least once, and over 7% will die as a result.

Roughly two-thirds of children and adolescents with major depressive disorder also have another mental disorder. The most commonly associated disorders are dysthymia (ongoing depression), an anxiety disorder, a disruptive or antisocial disorder, or a substance abuse disorder.

Child and teen depression if not effectively treated, often leads to drug and alcohol abuse or additional behavioral disorders.

In October 2004, the FDA ordered a black box warning on all antidepressants for children and teens. A black box warning does not mean antidepressants are prohibited. It means that special care should be used with a medication. In a review of clinical trials, the FDA stated that there was an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in 4 percent of young patients taking antidepressants, compared to 2 percent of those patients not taking an antidepressant. No suicides occurred in these trials. The FDA recommends close monitoring of children and teens taking antidepressants.

In January 2006, a large federally-funded study of adults and teens being treated for depression found that:
1)suicides were extremely rare
2)suicide attempts dropped by 50 percent compared to the month before patients took antidepressants.It is still essential to closely monitor any medication that your child takes.

The results of most recent teen study, the Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS), was released in August, 2004. In this study of teens aged 12 to 17, receiving Prozac, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or both:

  • 71% receiving both Prozac and CBT improved.
  • 61% receiving Prozac alone improved
  • 44% receiving CBT alone improved
  • 35% receiving no treatment improved

In June of 2004, a study found that depressive disorders start on average at age 14.

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