Depression in adolescents, difficulties in diagnosing teen depression, treatment options, and hope for parents of depressed teenagers
Call 866.845.1392 for Residential Treatment Options

Treatment Options for Teen Depression

Does Your Teen Need Residential Treatment? If you have tried therapy and other options at home, but nothing has helped your teen's depression, a therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment program may be the answer.

Call 866.845.1392

to learn about the options available to you and your child.

The first step for parents of a depressed teen is to acknowledge the possibility that your child has a problem you can't fix on your own. Your child may not have the tools to get better on his own, so telling your teen to "pull himself up by the bootstraps" will not be effective if your child is clinically depressed. A depressed adolescent is not lazy, willful, or just trying to get out of work. A depressed teen is ill and needs treatment.

Denial is a common problem when it comes to teens with mental health issues. Some parents feel guilty or want to blame someone for the problem. They may lash out at their spouse if they don't feel supported. They may lash out at the teen if they think she just needs a "swift kick in the pants" to snap out of the funk. Depression is a legitimate illness. If your child had diabetes you would not think twice about seeking medical attention. Depression, which if left untreated has serious long-term implications (or even the risk of suicide), deserves the same attention and compassion as any other illness. Forget the prejudices of the past about mental health issues. These ideas will not help a teen get better. Avoid being dismissive about your child's feelings. While they might express feelings that seem dramatic to you, they probably seem very real to your teen.

Respect Your Teen's Privacy

Consider your child's feelings when discussing his or her problems in front of other people. Think about how you would feel if you were clinically depressed and a friend told your co-workers, friends, or employers you were taking medication for it. You probably would not appreciate their sharing your private medical information. Your child deserves the same respect. This is not to say you want your child to feel embarrassed or ashamed of their illness, just that it is their right to decide if they want friends to know they are being treated. You can encourage them to enlist the support of peers, but blurting out their illness to your next door neighbor may make a teen feel his or her privacy is being invaded. You may need to discuss the issue with teachers or counselors at school. Include your teen in these discussions so they feel part of their own recovery.


School Counseling: Your child can visit counselors at his or her school, and many schools will have a psychologist who can discuss your child's issue. They can recommend the next step in dealing with your teenager's possible depression.

Psychologists: A psychologist experienced with children and adolescents can assess your teen and recommend the next course of action. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication, so they may refer you to a psychiatrist, preferably one who has experience treating children and adolescents. Generally, medication alone is not as effective as medication in combination with behavioral therapy.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools: These schools help teens continue their academic work while dealing with their emotional and behavioral issues. Click here to learn more about these types of programs.

Choosing a Psychologist

Do your research the same way you would for a medical doctor. Are they members of the APA? Did they get their degree from an APA-accredited school? You can see a list of schools accredited by the American Psychological Association here.

Residential Treatment

Sometimes the most effective treatment is one that takes place outside the home environment. By putting your adolescent in a safe, nurturing environment, you allow them to focus on their illness and rediscover themselves. Teens in therapeutic boarding schools can continue their education while learning healthy coping skills under the supervision of qualified therapists.

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