Medication, Therapy Fight Depression

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Dana Rappaport ’11
Web Opinions Editor

Approximately one in every eight adolescents suffers from depression each year.

However, only 30 percent of these teens receive treatment for depression, by either medication or therapy. 

According to WebMD.com, teens are capable of developing their depression by having “feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy,” in certain areas of their life that may heighten a stressful environment. Grades, school performances, ones’ social status, sexual orientation, or family life, are only some of the many examples that can lead toward stress, and sometimes, depression.

These causes are the most frequently occurring on the road towards depression; however, all teens are different, and therefore many different variables can trigger the emotional turmoil. 

Biologically, depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the body, involving an efflux of serotonin levels. Serotonin is found in the body’s nervous system; it regulates components such as sleep and temperature. Lower serotonin levels lead towards lack of or too much sleep, and an augmentation of sadness, weak energy levels, isolation, or loss of or gain of appetite. The lower the serotonin levels, the deeper the depression gets.

Whether ones’ symptoms are physical, emotional, or biological.  “The most unifying symptom of teen depression is when it becomes apparent that the student has lost complete interest in something they love to do,” said Director of Guidance Elaine Schwartz.

“Sometimes I don’t want to participate in regular activities or go out at night,” said an anonymous student.

The anonymous student was diagnosed with bipolar disorder; a disorder consisting of part depression and part mania (excessive activity and talkativeness). She admits to “acting happy [in order to] make yourself stay through the whole day of school.”

Schwartz encourages teachers who notice depression-like symptoms to approach the problem and provide the student with help. She states that often teens with depression do not even realize that an effect has taken toll on their body.

 However, once the diagnosis is met, several different types of treatment are widely available for the emotionally instable teen. The  depressed person’s needs are analyzed and it is determined if an anti-depressant is necessary, or would be helpful.

Leading anti–depressant medications like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are specialized for use by adolescents.

All anti-depressants have a different profile. Both Proloft and Zoloft both increase the development of serotonin production in the body so that the depression symptoms can be alleviated.

“Every adolescent depression case is different. Therefore, the medicine prescribed and the dosage amount varies for every student as well. A student might need to try different prescriptions before feeling any effects of the drug,” said Staples’ psychologist Carol Taney.

The referenced student admits to trying five to six different types of anti-depressants before she was able to find the one that fit for her needs.

Once the right prescription is found it generally takes 4-6 weeks for the medicine to reap full effects; it is then there is an influx of happiness instilled in the student’s body.

“I have had some students report that they do not notice the medicine’s effects on them. Other times students notice an indefinite mood change, and can remember specific times where they cried, such as during a movie, whereas before the medicine it would be more often” said [official title?] Chris Lemone.

However, anti-depressants are not happy pills or the remedy to solving all depression-related problems.

In school, guidance counselors and social workers, notice anti-depressants alleviate depression affected students from the heavy stress felt from the pressures of school; therefore they can return to their previous levels of functioning.

Even if depression is noticed in a student, medication is not necessarily the way to cure this disease.

Not every teen diagnosed with adolescent depression is treated with medication. The low levels of serotonin caused by depression lead to suicidal thoughts, but another effect is that the teen doesn’t have enough energy to commit suicide. Doctors fear that the anti-depressants will give the student just enough energy to kill themselves.

Pediatric psychiatrists have the ability to deem if the drug will generate feelings of suicide or harmful actions for each individual teen. The physicians also have the ability to not reissue or cancel the prescription if he or she notices an increase signs of suicide.

Therefore, anti-depressants are not for every adolescent suffering from depression; non-medicated treatment can be just as sufficient. Weekly or daily visits to a trusted therapist can increase stability and decrease feelings of guilt or sadness.

Therapists, guidance counselors, social workers, peers or anyone a clinically depressed teen is comfortable talking to are all advised to part in the strengthening process and be there as a reliant figure.

“By talking about their problems or what is stressing them out, definitely helps a depressed student cope,” Horowitz said. 

However, the most effective treatment is the combination of both anti-depressants and therapy. Teen depression is a serious subject matter and should not be ignored nor taken lightly within the Staples’ community. Help should be provided for a student with the disorder.

“One the best day, I’m not as clear-headed as the student next to me,” said the source.

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