Adolescent Depression

At the Gold Center, we believe in a multifaceted approach to psychotherapy. All of our psychiatrists and clinicians are trained in psychodynamic principles as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive therapy and more strictly behavioral approaches. Our therapists have experience working with children, adults, couples, and families. Generally, psychotherapy is once to twice per week. With children and adolescents, it is always time limited and we try to identify one or two primary measurable goals. However, often goals and direction shifts as treatment progresses. We believe strongly that parents must be involved in their child’s treatment. In some cases, we meet together with child and parent and in other circumstances we will meet with parents alone. With adolescents, we are very clear about how and when parents will be involved in order to ensure confidentiality and cultivate independence.

In addition to adults, children and teenagers may also suffer from depression. Depression is more than just a couple of sad days. It involves ongoing feelings of sadness or irritability that interfere with a child or adolescent’s ability to function.
The behavior of depressed children and teenagers may differ from the behavior of depressed adults. Children and teenagers often exhibit symptoms of irritability or troublesome behavior when depressed. There may be an increase in tantrums or more defiant behavior. Parents often get frustrated or angry at their children’s behavior without recognizing that depression may be at the root of the problem. Kids often don’t talk about depression but will report symptoms when asked directly. There is usually a change in a child’s behavior. He or she may become more isolated or lose
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interest in friends or activities. It is imperative for parents and teachers to look for warning signs of depression in children and adolescents.

Symptoms Include:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Decreased interest in or enjoyment of favorite activities
  • Hopelessness
  • Persistent boredom; low energy
  • Social isolation such as withdrawing from friends and family
  • Low self esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self destructive behavior

The Stats:

  • More than 1 in 7 teenagers suffer from depression each year.
  • The prevalence of depression in female teenagers is three times higher than in males
  • An estimated 3.1 million adolescent aged 12 to 17 in the United States have had at least one major depressive disorder.


Before a diagnosis or treatment can begin, the child or adolescent should see a mental health professional who will do an evaluation.  A thorough evaluation includes a parent interview, a child interview and a detailed medical and family history. It is important for the therapist to understand the educational history and the family dynamics and culture.

Comprehensive treatment should take a multifaceted approach to child’s life and include the medical, psychological, social, school and cultural components.  The treatment plan often includes both individual and family therapy. Individual therapy may involve play, coaching or more formal behavioral treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Treatment

may also include the use of antidepressant medication.In certain cases, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can also be an additional option.  TMS can used in lieu of medication or in addition to medication. TMS in children under 18 years of age is not FDA approved yet but the results are promising and the FDA approval process is underway.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on how one’s thoughts, emotions and behavior impact each other. In CBT, patients learn techniques to recognize how negative patterns impact mood and happiness. CBT is a time-limited, research-based treatment effective for a wide variety of problems including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addictions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessional thinking, social and performance anxiety. CBT usually lasts for 12-20 sessions. Between weekly individual sessions, patients practice skills learned in session through homework exercises. Our clinicians can also incorporate CBT skills into a broader treatment plan.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Program

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a specialized cognitive therapy approach designed for individuals who are prone to experience intense emotions which lead to actions such as self-injury, anger outbursts and volatile relationships. It is considered first line treatment for adults diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. DBT has been adapted for adolescents struggling with emotional dysregulation who engage in self sabatoge and who have low frustration tolerance. DBT treatment is composed of individual and group sessions along with booster phone calls as needed. We encourage adolescents and young adults to attend one group session and one individual session per week. In our adolescent program, weekly parent sessions are also recommended.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Often called therapy or psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy is an individual therapy that helps individuals to address a range of psychological issues to better cope with various life stressors. The goal of psychotherapy is symptom remission and improved self-esteem. Patients should gain insight and skills to realize their fullest potential in their relationship in their life goals. Our clinicians treat a variety of conditions including: life transitions/stressors, anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, learning disorders, bipolar disorder and a variety of medical concerns.

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