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Major Depression In Adolescents


Major depression is a type of mood disorder. A mood is an emotion or a feeling. Moods affect a person's behavior and how a person feels about himself and life in general. Depression is a sad mood that your child cannot control. Major depression is a medical condition.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.


If your child takes medicine to treat his depression, he may have side effects from the medicine. Depression often gets worse if your child is not treated. Once your child has major depression, his risk of becoming depressed again increases. Your child also has a higher risk of developing other mental health problems. Depression may cause your child to want to hurt himself or others if he is not treated. Depression increases your child's risk of committing suicide.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Care setting:

Your child may need to stay in a psychiatric or pediatric unit. This unit usually has bedrooms and a living area, and sometimes the doors must stay locked.

  • Clothes: Caregivers may take your child's clothes and have him wear a gown at the beginning of his stay. Later he may wear his own clothes while he is in the hospital.
  • Meals: Your child will eat his meals on the unit or in the cafeteria with other patients.
  • Personal belongings: When your child is admitted to the unit, caregivers may search his belongings. Any belongings brought to your child during his stay will also be searched. This is done to keep your child and the hospital staff safe.


  • Psychiatrist: This is a medical doctor who works in the area of mental health. The psychiatrist is in charge of ordering your child's medicine. You and your child may work closely with the psychiatrist and another caregiver.
  • Therapist: This is a caregiver that works closely with you while your child is being treated. This person may be a doctor, psychologist, nurse, mental health counselor, or social worker.


Caregivers will check your child's vital signs. This includes taking your child's temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respirations (counting his breaths). Caregivers will ask you and your child questions to learn how alert your child is. They may check your child's skin for scars or signs of self-harm. They may take blood and send it to the lab for tests. Blood tests help caregivers know if your child has other medical problems that may be causing the depression. They may also help caregivers know if your child has drugs or other substances in his blood.


Your child may have 1 or more of the following medicines during his stay:

  • Antidepressants: This medicine is given to decrease or stop the symptoms of depression. It may take some time to start working. Your child may need to take antidepressants for up to 1 year. If your child has had major depression in the past, he may need to use antidepressants longer.
  • Antianxiety medicine: This medicine may be given if your child's depression makes him feel nervous. It may make him feel drowsy.
  • Sedatives: This medicine may be given if your child is having trouble sleeping. It may make him feel drowsy.
  • Psychostimulants: This medicine may be given if your child's depression makes him feel tired all the time.


  • 72-hour hold: This is when your child is put in the hospital for 72 hours without his permission. The police or a caregiver may decide to put your child in the hospital. This may only be done if others fear that your child may hurt himself or someone else. It may also be done if caregivers or police do not think your child can safely care for himself.
  • Quiet room: This is an empty room used for patients who need to have time out in a safe place. Your child may be put here if caregivers fear that your child may hurt himself or others.
  • Restraints: There are 2 types of restraints that may be used while your child is in the hospital. They will only be used if caregivers feel your child is in danger of hurting himself or others. Physical restraints may be put on your child's wrists or ankles and tied to something else. These are usually cloth or leather bands. Other things will always be tried before using physical restraints, such as going into a quiet room or seclusion. Caregivers may use chemical restraints. This is medicine used to help your child calm down and relax. Restraints should never be used to punish your child.
  • Seclusion: This is when your child needs to be locked in a safe room because he is out of control. The door is locked because your child might want to leave the room. Caregivers will closely watch your child while he is in seclusion. Your child may come out of seclusion when caregivers feel he will not hurt himself or others.
  • Sharps: Your child will not be allowed to keep any sharp items with him. Sharp items include scissors, nail files, razors, or glass. Ask a caregiver if your child needs to use 1 of these items.


Your caregiver may suggest several different types of talk therapy in addition to medicine. The therapy may be done with your child alone or in a group. Your child may start therapy in the hospital and continue therapy after he is discharged. Your child may have 1 or more of the following therapies and treatments for major depression:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy helps your child understand how he sees himself and things around him. Your child may have trouble seeing the good in himself and the things around him. When this happens, he is more likely to feel depressed, sad, or angry. CBT teaches your child how to set goals for himself, to solve problems, and to help himself. It teaches your child how to act and think in a more positive way.
  • Family therapy: This therapy helps your child and family members learn how to have a better relationship with each other. It helps all family members learn how to be more positive and supportive of each other.
  • Group therapy: This is a very effective therapy for adolescents. Your child will work together with a therapist and other adolescents to deal with his depression. During therapy, your child can learn how to talk about his feelings and work on his social skills. Group therapy may help your child understand that other adolescents have the same or similar feelings to his own.
  • Light therapy: This therapy may be used if your child's depression gets worse during certain seasons (fall or winter). It also may be used if you and your child live in a place that gets little sunshine. Your child will sit in front of a box that gives off a safe light. Your child may need to do this daily for several months.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Major Depression In Adolescents (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes