Thursday, November 25, 2010

Teenage Girls and Depression

I was talking to a doctor the other day who said depression can be a learned behavior. I thought that was interesting. So when it's a learned behavior, can you 'unlearn' it and avoid medication? I wonder. And how do you tell the difference between depression that's a learned behavior and depression that is a chemical imbalance that needs to be medicated? Depression seems to be so common. This story looks at depression among teenage girls. If you have a teenager girl, now may be the time to talk to her about depression to make sure she isn't hiding these thoughts.


Teenage girls may be more susceptible than boys to recurring depression

THE QUESTION Even after treatment, depression sometimes comes back. Among teenagers, what might contribute to this recurrence?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 196 teens who had been treated for depression at an average age of 14. By random assignment, they took the antidepressant fluoxetine, received cognitive behavioral therapy (a type of talk therapy aimed at learning to counter negative thinking), took the drug and had therapy in combination or took a placebo. After three months, teens taking the placebo who had not recovered could switch to another treatment group.

Within a five-year span, 96 percent of the teens were deemed symptom-free. However, in that time, about 47 percent had a recurrence of depression, girls more often than boys (57 vs. 33 percent). Teens who had an anxiety disorder along with depression were also more likely to have depression return (62 vs. 42 percent). Though the combination of antidepressant and talk therapy had been the most effective short-term treatment, it had no effect on whether teenagers had a recurrence.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Teens with depression. Each year, an estimated 2 million American youths 12 to 17 years old have at least one major depressive episode. About two-fifths of them receive treatment.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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