Depression Treatment Not the Same for Everyone

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), February 2, 2005 | Go to article overview

Depression Treatment Not the Same for Everyone


Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Alice Duffy For The Register-Giard

I had a disturbing conversation with an old friend. We talked about the article I was writing. She told me she wholeheartedly disagreed with my cautious warnings about treating adolescents with antidepressant medication.

``Do you want to know why?'' she asked.

What a question. "Of course I do."

"Well, when I was 19 I tried to kill myself. My father came home from work early and found me on my bedroom floor. I had taken an overdose, fully intending to die."

I was stunned. Shannon and I had been friends since high school, and I couldn't imagine her in so much pain. The thought of her as a dead teenager and absent from my life all these years was too difficult to embrace.

Shannon told me that she had been in treatment for depression, but her psychiatrist would not prescribe any medications for her. She had been depressed for months. When she failed an engineering exam and perceived her career ambitions as being over, it was all too much and she opted for the quick exit from pain.

Shannon's father got her to the hospital. She had her stomach pumped and was prescribed antidepressant medication, which helped her immensely. Shannon has remained on medication for years and wouldn't consider stopping. Her family is strong and loving, and she regrets the pain and fear she caused. She has been in counseling off and on but feels she's mostly dealing with a biochemical imbalance that is corrected by the medication.

Shannon experienced a severe depression. Current estimates say one in 20 adolescents suffer from moderately severe to severe depression. Their symptoms may include loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, change in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, difficulty concentrating and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. A major research study sponsored by the National Institutes of Mental Health recently concluded that the best success rate in treating adolescent depression occurred with a combination of the antidepressant Prozac and cognitive-behavioral therapy. …

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