Medication Guide for Childhood and Adolescent Depression Released

October 8, 2010

An updated medication guide, designed to help the parents of children and adolescents with depression, was published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association.

The new guide, The Use of Medication in Treating Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Information for Patients and Families, is available online at no charge. Written in a simple, question-and-answer format, this updated version replaces an earlier drug guide published in 2005. The current version includes a number of important discoveries made in the past few years about the nature and treatment of depression.

For example, several recent studies have tried to unravel the complicated relationship between depression, antidepressant use and suicide, especially among children and adolescents. The new medication guide notes that since the Food and Drug Administration attached a "black box" warning label to antidepressants in 2004 due to the risk of suicide, there has been a decline in antidepressant use, but an increase in adolescent suicide.

Depression in anyone can be difficult to diagnose, but it can be especially vexing in children and teenagers, who may not be able to verbalize their feelings. The following symptoms may be an indication of depression:

  • Appearing irritable, sad, tearful or cranky
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Decline in school performance
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Tiredness, fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Expressions of suicide or self-harm

The medication guide offers parents an explanation of these symptoms and other important issues, as well as practical advice on managing depression in children and teens, by answering questions like:

  • Will my child's depression pass without treatment?
  • How long should my child continue taking antidepressant medication?
  • What can be done if my child does not improve with medication?

The guide also includes information on symptoms of depression, risk factors for suicide, substance abuse, and depression treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. It was written by a panel of medical experts with significant input from parents, and has been endorsed by groups like Mental Health America, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Source: The Use of Medication in Treating Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Information for Patients and Families from

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 07 Oct 2010

Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015