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Depression in Children and Teens (cont.)

Other Treatment

Besides taking medicine, other treatment for depression includes professional counseling and electroconvulsive therapy.

Complementary medicines such as St. John's wort have been used to treat depression in adults. But there is no evidence that these therapies are safe for use by children or teens.2 They can also interfere with other medicines, such as antidepressants.

Other treatment choices

  • Types of counseling most often used to treat depression in children and teens are:
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps reduce negative patterns of thinking and encourages positive behaviors.
    • Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on the child's relationships with others.
    • Problem-solving therapy, which helps the child deal with current problems.
    • Family therapy, which provides a place for the whole family to express fears and concerns and learn new ways of getting along.
    • Play therapy, which is used with young children or children with developmental delays to help them cope with fears and anxieties. But there is no proof that this type of treatment reduces symptoms of depression.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an effective treatment for a teen or older child who is severely depressed or does not respond to other treatment, although this treatment is rarely used for children and teens. Even though it is an effective treatment for adults with major depression, there are currently no long-term studies on the safety of using ETC.2

What to think about

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implant for treatment of depression in adults. This device may be used when other treatments for depression have not worked.

A generator the size of a pocket watch is placed in the chest. Wires go up the neck from the generator to the vagus nerve. The generator sends tiny electric shocks through the vagus nerve to that part of the brain that is believed to play a role in mood.

How well the VNS implant works for children has not been well studied, and the device is expensive.8

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