Adolescent Depression Treatment

Teenage depression should be treated as soon as possible. See your local therapist to evaluate your teen and recommend the best treatment method for adolescent depression. Keep reading to learn about the available options in adolescent depression treatment.

Teen depression is a serious condition, but teens who suffer from depression can often be treated. Because teenage depression can disrupt a teen’s life, and increases a teen’s risk for suicide, it is important for teens to get treatment for their teen depression.

If you are a teen and suspect that you are suffering from depression, find an adult who will listen and help you get depression treatment. Teens with depression should see a doctor who can check for physical illnesses that cause some of the symptoms of teen depression, such as hypothyroidism or anemia. If a teen is diagnosed with depression, a doctor may suggest medications, refer the teen to a therapist, or both. It is important that the teen with depression is comfortable with whoever treats him or her.

Therapy is an important part of treating teen depression. Individual or group therapy can help teens with depression to:

  • Recognize and change the negative thoughts that may cause or trigger depression
  • Find better ways to solve problems
  • Learn better social and interpersonal skills

Family counseling or therapy is also beneficial in helping teens and their families understand and deal with teen depression.

Medications are commonly used to treat teen depression, though their long-term effects on teens are not well studied. The most common type of medication prescribed for teens is the SSRI fluoxetine, commonly known as Prozac. Other types of medications, including those normally prescribed for adults, may be tried for teens with depression as well. Antidepressant drugs do have some side-effects, sometimes including suicidal behavior, so it is important for friends and family to watch for the warning signs of suicide in a teen taking antidepressants, such as talking about death or suicide or giving away personal possessions. Doctors usually must use trial and error to find the right medication and dosages for a teen with depression.

A stay in the hospital may be necessary for a teen who is suicidal or experiencing hallucinations.

In severe cases, doctors may recommend alternative therapies, but the long-term effects of alternative treatments on teens are not always well researched, and may be serious; teens with depression and their parents should try to find out all they can about alternative treatments before trying them.

Some things that can help teens with depression treatment include:

  • Get help; don’t wait to see if depression will get better.
  • Attend scheduled therapy and do not stop taking medications or take alternative treatments without talking to your doctor.
  • Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and get enough sleep.
  • Participate in positive activities; even small activities like personal grooming help.
  • Keep a journal about how you feel to help yourself and your doctor or therapist determine triggers and effective treatments for your depression.
  • Consider having a no-suicide contract, either verbal or written.
  • Learn about teen depression. Know that you can feel better.
  • If you feel suicidal, tell someone and call 911 or a suicide hotline immediately.

Family and friends of teens with depression can help by encouraging the teens to take good care of themselves, letting the teens know that they have value, being patient and not telling a teen to “snap out of it”, and setting a good example by balancing their own lives. Always take suicide attempts and threats seriously.


If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call 911 or a suicide hotline, such as Samariteens Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-252-TEEN (8336), or 1-800-273-TALK.

Your local phonebook may also list suicide hotlines and clinics that offer free or discounted treatments for teen depression.

Treating Adolescent Depression Sources:

  • from the Nemours Foundation, “Understanding Depression” [online]
  • Norfolk District Attorney’s Office, “Depression” [online]
  • Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA, A Family Guide, Keeping Youth Mentally Healthy and Drug Free, “Depression Hurts” [online]
  • “Depression in Childhood and Adolescence” [online]