Mistreated Depression

  Mistreated Depression Emily Halevy | CWK Network Producer
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“Basically, psychiatrists are pretty busy. They don’t want to spend a lot of time with people. They want to get people in and out, maybe two or three an hour…. It pays better to do that than spending an hour doing psychotherapy.”

– David Gore, Ph.D., clinical psychologist


The number of teens suffering from depression in the United States has doubled in the past 10 years. Many are now taking anti-depressants. But new research shows that many of these teens are missing a crucial part of treatment.

Fifteen-year-old Sarah McMenamin suffers from depression. It started a year ago with the death of her father.

“I was just like, ‘I just want to die,’” she says, describing her feeling before seeing a therapist. “I would never kill myself, but I just wish I was dead, I just wish I was never gonna wake up.”

For depressed teens, experts at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry say what can help is medicine – combined with talk therapy.

“I think the therapist helped me,” explains Sarah, “’cause it was talking, you know, I got it out. I didn’t bottle everything up.”

“The advantage to getting some therapy along with medication is that you get to the root of the problem,” explains Dr. David Gore, clinical psychologist. “You get to see why you’re feeling that way. And if you start understanding why you’re feeling that way, chances are pretty good you’ll stop feeling that way.”

But according to a new study from Stanford, more teens than ever are getting medication without psychotherapy. Why? Gore has an answer.

“Basically, psychiatrists are pretty busy,” he says. “They don’t want to spend a lot of time with people. They want to get people in and out, maybe two or three an hour. … It pays better to do that than spending an hour doing psychotherapy.”

Three months ago, Sarah started seeing a new doctor.

“Right away he put me on Zoloft,” she says. “He didn’t even know me for an hour and he put me on it.”

But psychologists say medicine alone just won’t work as well.

“You take your pill, you’ll get some immediate relief,” explains Gore, “but the problem’s going to crop up again in two months or four months or six months. You’ve got to get to the root of the problem.”

Sarah will resume talk therapy again in a few months. She says she is looking forward to it.

“You get it out on the table and you know your feelings’” she says, “and you go in thinking it’s one thing and you come out finding out it’s like 10 different things and you’re like, ‘Wow.’”


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


Diabetes and Depression

Education Feature
Diabetes and Depression
By Robert Seith
CWK Senior Producer

“It’s just depressing … that’s the best word I can think of.”
-Keith Gonyea, 16-

The routine never changes for 16-year-old Keith Gonyea. He inserts the needle from the insulin pump, draws blood 10 times a day to check his blood-sugar levels and carefully watches what he eats.

“It’s unbearable. Obviously, you have to, but it’s hard,” he says.

Still, Keith’s eyesight continues to get worse, and he has circulation problems in his feet.

“It’s just depressing … that’s the best word I can think of. It’s hard,” he says.

Keith suffers from diabetes burnout, which can lead to real depression. According to studies published in the journal Diabetes Care, kids with diabetes are three times more likely to become depressed later in life.

“They spend a lot of time worrying, and some of them get preoccupied with the worries or the feeling different, or just low or just frustrated that it just can’t be easy,” says Paula Bryman, L.C.S.W.

Unintentionally, parents can make matters worse. If they only focus on their child’s disease, their child may begin to think that the disease is the only aspect of life about which his or her parents care.

“A lot of the adolescents say to me, ‘I come home, and instead of my mom or dad saying to me, “How was your day, how are you?” [they ask] “What was your blood sugar?”’ And they feel like their whole identity is about having diabetes,” Bryman says.

According to Bryman, parents need to teach their diabetic child – and remind themselves – that the disease is only part of their child’s life.

Keith teaches this message by working with younger kids at the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

“Most adolescents find it very empowering to help somebody,” Bryman says.

Keith agrees: “Just being around them and being able to help them out … knowing people aren’t always going to be around to help me out; I can help people out.”

By Tom Atwood
CWK Network, Inc.

“Depression packs a double-punch for those with diabetes. Along with the mental anguish, blood glucose control often slips as well. But there is hope.”

– Diabetes Forecast Magazine, a publication of the American Diabetes Association

The news that diabetics are three to four times as likely to suffer depression is not good for teens who discover they have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimates that depression affects 15-20% of those with diabetes, regardless of if they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes because depression affects both groups equally.

Does diabetes cause depression? The ADA says that no one knows for sure why depression is more common among those diagnosed with diabetes. However, both mental and physical factors exist that could aggravate depression for diabetics:

  • The extra demands of the diabetes regimen itself may put some people at greater risk for depression. (Adjusting to dietary restrictions, blood-testing routines and hospitalizations can be difficult.)
  • For those whose diabetes has progressed, dealing with the loss of vision, kidney failure, etc., can open the door to depression.
  • Various physical changes associated with diabetes, including chemical and blood-flow changes in the brain, may also be factors.

The good news? Three recent studies published in Psychological Annals, Psychosomatic Medicine and Diabetes show that depression in diabetic patients can be treated effectively with either antidepressants or a specific form of psychotherapy known as cognitive-behavioral therapy. The studies also found that as depression eased, blood-glucose control improved.

What Parents Need to Know

At any given time, 5% of children suffer from depression. Children with diabetes, as well as children under stress who have experienced a loss or who suffer from other disorders, are at a higher risk for depression. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) lists the following signs of depression:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness or crying
  • Hopelessness
  • Decreased interest in activities or an inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • Persistent boredom and low energy
  • Social isolation and poor communication
  • Low self-esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior

If one or more of these signs of depression persist in your child, the AACAP suggests seeking professional help. Getting an early diagnosis and medical treatment are critical for depressed children.

Treating Teen Depression

Depression is a serious condition, which, if left untreated, can even become life threatening. According to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), each year 5,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 commit suicide. The rate has tripled since 1960. Therapy can help teens understand why they are depressed and learn how to handle stressful situations. Treatment may consist of individual, group or family counseling. Medications prescribed by a psychiatrist may be needed to help teens feel better.

The NMHA cites the following methods for treating depression:

  • Psychotherapy: This method explores events and feelings that are painful and troubling. It also teaches coping skills.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This approach helps teens change negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This method focuses on ways of developing healthier relationships at home and school.
  • Medication: Taking medication relieves some symptoms of depression. It is often prescribed along with therapy.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Diabetes Association
National Mental Health Association



Depression – Connecting with Kids


The face of depression is getting younger. In a recent survey, 23% of young adults reported symptoms of serious depression before the age of 20—up from just 2% a generation ago. The reasons range from increased pressure in school to rising divorce rates among parents, experts say.

“My parents went through an awful divorce my ninth-grade year, and I was devastated,” says 18 year-old Brittany.

Parents often mis-interpret the signs of depression. Some kids may become lethargic and withdrawn, as expected, while others may show agitation, frustration and aggression. For school-aged children a drop in grades could also be an indicator. Unfortunately, it often provokes punishment rather than sympathy.

Psychologist Sunaina Jain says, “Rather than thinking of children’s misbehaviors as discipline problems or misbehaviors as deliberate, it’s important to see them as communication from the child. This is the child’s way of telling you how he or she is feeling”

Experts say that, given the new reality, a quarter of all kids will experience depression. Parents need to make sure they take a constant measure of their child’s emotional pulse.

 What Parents Should Know

Emotional anchors are fewer and further between for many kids. In years past kids spent more time with parents, grandparents and neighbors than they do now, says USA Today.

Kids look to parents for emotional support and reassurance. With the amount of time parents and children spending together on a downward trend, many children are feeling alone—isolated.

In the past, when Mom and Dad weren’t around, grandparent or neighbors were likely to be at arms reach, but not anymore, studies say. Grandparents aren’t as accessible and families now move an average of every seven years, compared to every 21 years three decades ago. Adjusting to a new neighborhood every few years makes it more difficult to develop strong and lasting neighborly relations.

With the odds of smooth sailing being less and less for children, parents should be extra cautious of children’s emotional status. They need support. They need reassurance. They need an emotional anchor.

“It’s important to see them as communication from the child. This is the child’s way of telling you how he or she is feeling”

– Dr. Sunaina Jain, Psychologist

Severity of Sadness

The number of teen suicides has jumped more than 300% during the past 30 years. While depression isn’t the only catalyst for this astounding increase, it is a key factor.

Depression can be broken down into mild, moderate and severe levels. Severe depression often accompanies suicidal tendencies and should be treated immediately.

Some of the symptoms of severe depression decreased energy or heightened anxiety, loss of interest in pleasurable things, insomnia, feelings of guilt and chronic bodily aches.



Depression Symptoms

Every child is different and will express signs of depression in a unique way, but a parent noticing some of the following symptoms should investigate their child’s mental well-being.

  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Frequent sadness
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Declined interest inactivities
  • Unexplained physical complaints
  • Isolation
  • Increased Anxiety/Hyper-activity
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fatigue
  • Irratibility


1. Elias, M. (2000 Nov 30). Depression trend eroding: Fraying families are taking earlier toll. USA Today, p.8D.

2. National Institutes of MentalHealth (2000) Depressive Illnesses: Treatments bring new hope (NIH Publication No. 93-3612). Rockbille, MD: National Institute of Health.

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