Q: I am pretty sure my 14-year-old daughter is depressed. I know quite a few adults who have taken or are taking antidepressants, but no teens. Are there particular drugs that are better suited to teens? What side effects should I be looking for? How long does it take before she starts to feel “better”? So far we’ve made an appointment with our family doctor to talk about her symptoms, but do you think she needs to see a specialist?
A: This is definitely the time to let a professional help you determine what’s going on and work with you and your daughter to decide the next steps. If she is depressed, there are a number of approaches that may prove successful; close monitoring with supportive counselling, talk-therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy are all helpful in treating mild to moderate depression. If necessary, a mental health professional can direct you to appropriate medications to be used in conjunction with some form of counselling. However, these medications must be closely monitored by someone used to dealing with adolescent depression. If your daughter is diagnosed with adolescent depression (which can be a chronic problem), it’s essential that you and she learn more about it and what approaches work best for her.