Are Teenagers Too Young to Go to Rehab for Depression?

Some people believe that depression is a condition that only appears in adults, who face everyday burdens of responsibility and obligation. However, doctors, researchers and public health officials have long known that the condition also appears in a significant number of teenagers. This fact makes appropriate teenage rehab for depression a mental health necessity.

Teen Depression Facts

As they grow older, adults often romanticize their carefree teenage days. However, the fact of the matter is that most teenagers face a number of substantial, daily challenges that can promote the onset of serious depression. These challenges commonly include:

  • Pressures related to peer groups and social status
  • School-related pressures, and
  • The broad range of physical changes that occur over the course of adolescence

Not everyone dealing with these day-to-day influences will develop changes in their mental health that transition from normal episodes of sadness to damaging bouts of depression. However, substantial numbers of teens do go through this unfortunate transition every day. Just like depression in adults, depression in adolescents can severely interfere with the ability to experience a sense of well-being or maintain a functional routine. In extreme cases, depression at any age can lead to suicidal thinking, suicidal planning and/or clearly suicidal acts.

What Happens in Teen Depression Treatment?

Like depression treatment for adults, teen rehab for depression usually focuses on the combined use of medications and some form of psychotherapy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has specifically approved two types of antidepressant medications for use in teenagers:

  • Lexapro (escitalopram), and
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)

Doctors must carefully monitor all antidepressant use in adolescents, since intake of these medications can sometimes make teens much more likely to think about suicide or make actual suicide attempts. Several forms of psychotherapy can play a role in teen depression treatment. Common approaches include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing the emotional, psychological and behavioral reactions that contribute to or reinforce a depressed mental state
  • Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on changing damaging patterns of social interaction, and
  • Family therapy, which focuses on understanding and changing dysfunctional dynamics in family relationships

While treatment usually takes place on an inpatient or outpatient basis, severely depressed teens may need to be hospitalized temporarily to reduce their chances of harming themselves or other people. Sources National Institute of Mental Health: Teen Depression Mayo Clinic: Teen Depression

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