Topic: Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent)
Definition for Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent):
Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent) is defined by the CEBC as the treatment of youth with a diagnosis of a depressive disorder, or with elevated symptoms of depression as demonstrated by a standardized screening or assessment tool. Common symptoms may include persistent sad or irritable mood, loss of interest in activities, significant change in appetite or body weight, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, and/or difficulty concentrating.
The CEBC has evaluated only replicable programs that do not use medication as an essential component of treatment. The Pharmacological Treatments for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Disorders page has links to reputable organizations that list information on medications used to help treat children and adolescents with depression and other disorders.
- Target population: Youth with a diagnosis of a depressive disorder or with elevated symptoms of depression as demonstrated by a standardized screening or assessment tool
- Services/types that fit: Typically outpatient services - usually either individual or group, but occasionally family therapy or services also
- Delivered by: Mental health professionals
- In order to be included: Program must specifically target depression as a goal
- In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by Scientific Rating Scale) that examines depression related outcomes, such changes in symptom levels, behaviors, and/or functioning
Programs in this Topic Area
The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.
Two Programs with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training (IPT-AST)Adolescents, 12-16 years old, with elevated depression symptoms
- Primary and Secondary Control Enhancement Training (PASCET)Children and adolescents aged 8-15 who are depressed
Four Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:
- ACTION9 to 14-year olds who are depressed.
- Adolescent Coping With Depression Course (CWD-A)High school aged (13-19) adolescents with depression
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents (IPT-A)Adolescents ages 12-18 years old suffering from nonpsychotic depression who can be treated on a once-a-week outpatient basis
- StressbustersChildren in grades 3-6
Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?
The Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent) topic area is relevant to child welfare because documented research shows that children who enter the child welfare system, particularly those that are removed from their home, experience a significantly higher rate of mental health problems, including depression than children in the general population. This is not surprising, and is likely the result of a number of contributing factors. These factors may include events that precipitated child welfare intervention including abuse, neglect, and abandonment, as well as factors associated with placement, including separation, loss, anger, and fear.
While the child welfare system has historically focused on the physical and safety needs of children, emerging practice within agencies across the country is to now take into account the emotional needs of children as well. Child welfare agencies along with mental health providers have come to recognize the need for timely, appropriate, and effective depression treatment services that support children and families in achieving successful outcomes. In addition, early assessment and timely treatment intervention have been recognized as playing a key role in ensuring successful outcomes for children. As a result, a growing number of new initiatives and programs are being implemented within California counties that support the delivery of an array of mental health services to children and families receiving child welfare services. These services range from mental health screening and assessment to individualized treatment for identified needs.
Additionally, there is heightened awareness among professionals that the delivery of children's mental health services must be carefully coordinated across child serving agencies to thoroughly address their complex needs. Whether children remain living with their parents or are placed outside the home, it is critical that all children in the child welfare system be screened and assessed. Moreover, parents and caregivers must be trained to identify early signs of mental distress enabling them to seek early intervention and appropriate care and treatment.
Division Chief, Community-Based Support Division
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services
Amanda Jensen Doss, PhD, Assistant Professor
Child Division of the Department of Psychology, University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL