Treating Depression in Children & Teens - Family Therapy

There is a vast difference between depression in children and adults. Most of the time, parents do not notice emotional health in children. Diagnosing depression in children is also more complicated than diagnosing depression in adults. The physician needs to interview the parents to understand whether the condition can be classified as clinical depression or not. As parents are likely to be biased, diagnosis may require interviewing friends, school mates and teachers as well.

Stressed parents, poor upbringing and genetic predisposition are the most commonly known causes of depression in children. Once it is diagnosed, there are various treatment options that can be looked into.
Depression in ChildrenCognitive Therapy is by far the most commonly used therapy for teen depression help. Cognition is described as the psychological result of learning and reasoning. Depression in children is considered a result of negative self perceptions that manifests as cognitive distortions about self and the environment. The therapist uses his expertise to address the three domains of treatment.

Cognition - Patients are taught to think positively in order to correct negative thinking
Behavior - Social skills and assertiveness
Physiology - Relaxation techniques, meditation and pleasant imagery

Excessive parental criticism, parental depression and family stress can lead to high stress levels among children which can lead to depression at times.

Family therapy is another option for treating depression naturally. Unless there is a genetic disposition towards depression, children often take negative cues from a stressful environment around them. If you have a depressed child at home, it will do you and your offspring a lot of good if you join a family psycho-educational group. You will get to meet parents and children who are facing similar problems. Such programs target different spheres of child depression:
  1. How to identify symptoms of depression
  2. How to approach and help your depressed child
  3. Interpersonal skills
  4. Knowledge about mood disorders
  5. Medication and its side effects
  6. Effects of different stress factors on your child.
Parents are taught to demonstrate positive control over the child and to reduce stress in the family. The focus of family therapy is mainly on improving the quality of parent-child relationships. It also tries to improve competencies within the child and does not lay too much stress on symptoms.

Medication is the last resort for treatment where nothing else works. There is no effective antidepressant that will treat depression in children without the side effects. These drugs can also be addictive. Natural remedies for depression like herbs and homeopathy are safer. It is advisable that all medication, natural or conventional be used under professional guidance.

If the family environment is the cause of child depression, it becomes necessary for the family to help in the treatment. Studies have shown that family intervention and participation in the treatment process are extremely effective tools in treating depression in children.

Article by : Tess Thompson

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