treating teens with depression

Residential Treatment for Teenage Depression

Treating Teen Depression

Elk River provides tools needed to live happy and productive lives

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults age 15 - 24. The majority who attempt suicide have a significant mental health disorder, usually depression.

At a higher risk for depression are children under stress, who experience loss, or who have attentional learning, conduct or anxiety disorders. Because an adolescent may not always seem sad, parents may not realize that troublesome behavior is a sign of depression.

Since 2006, Elk River Treatment Program has helped thousands of teens struggling with a myriad of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder and suicidal ideation and/or attempts.

Elk River Treatment Program specializes in cognitive behavior modification and physician-directed medication management in a safe and healthy environment. A residential setting such as Elk River should be considered when diagnosis is complex and involves careful observation over an extended period of time. If a client is struggling with an illness as severe as depression or Bipolar Disorder and exhibiting self-harm behaviors, admission at an acute hospital setting may be necessary, followed by intense therapy in a residential program like Elk River Treatment Program that specializes in caring for adolescents.

Children and teenagers with symptoms of Bipolar Disorder have manic and/or depressive symptoms. Some may have mostly depression and others a combination of manic and depressive symptoms. Highs may alternate with lows. "When parents are completing an application for admission, they may believe their child is suffering from a manic state when in actuality, they are exhibiting symptoms of drug use - prescription drugs or illegal drugs," explained Elk River Treatment Program's Director of Admissions Kathy Marino, LPC. "It isn't until the child is in residential treatment, with no access to substances, that we can get a clear picture of what is going on," Marino said.

In other cases, the child may be self-medicating his or her depression, anxiety or manic disorders with benzodiazepines (Xanax) or marijuana. The child may be admitted to Elk River Treatment Program with an addiction or substance use diagnosis, when in actuality a dual diagnosis exists.

Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for children who suffer from depression and/or Bipolar Disorder. Elk River Treatment Program utilizes a multidisciplinary treatment team led by a child, adolescent and forensic psychiatrist and experienced staff to supervise clients 24/7 to determine a clear diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment plan for each client.

Treatment includes consistent individual, group and family therapy to help a child cope with stressors rebuild self-esteem and improve relationships. Treatment may also include the use of antidepressant medication or mood stabilizing medications that often help prevent depression and reduce the number and severity of manic episodes. Medication is managed by a Child, Adolescent and Forensic Psychiatrist who oversees the multidisciplinary treatment team.

Depression & Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Similar

Symptoms of Depression in Teens Include:

  • Irritability, depressed mood, persistent sadness, frequent crying
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Loss of enjoyment in favorite activities
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches or stomach ache
  • Low energy level, fatigue, poor concentration, complaints of boredom
  • Major change in eating or sleeping patterns, such as oversleeping or overeating

Suicide Risk Factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Bullying
  • Family history of suicide/suicide attempts
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Loss or rejection
  • Access to firearms
  • Exposure to trauma/violence

Symptoms of Bipolar/Manic Disorder in Teens Include:

  • Severe changes in mood, either unusually happy or silly or very irritable, angry, agitated or aggressive
  • Unrealistic highs in self-esteem – for example, a teenager who feels all powerful or like a superhero with special powers
  • Great increase in energy and the ability to go with little or no sleep for days without feeling tired
  • Increase in talking – the adolescent talks too much, too fast, changes topics too quickly, and cannot be interrupted
  • Distraction – the teen’s attention moves constantly from one thing to the next
  • Repeated high risk-taking behavior, such as abusing alcohol and drugs, reckless driving, or sexual promiscuity

Depression is Treatable / Suicide is Preventable

It's important to remember that depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental health disorders. Ask your child if he or she has suicidal thoughts or plans. The AACAP suggests the following questions. The questions are not designed to put thoughts in a child's head, but provide assurance that someone cares about them:

  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Are you thinking of hurting yourself?
  • Have you ever thought about hurting or killing yourself?

Parents can call or text the Suicide Lifeline at 988, or contact a counselor at Elk River Treatment Program for adolescents at 866-906-TEEN (8336).