Families often find it hard to sort out the information they get about depression treatments. It comes from a huge variety of sources the Internet, television, newspaper articles, friends, doctors and therapists.
Some of this information comes from people who want to convenience you that the depression treatments they are proposing are the best. Someone who has extensive training in one type of depression treatments will feel validated if you pick this type. A friend might feel reassured that she made the right choice if your teen has the same treatment as her son or daughter.
And, of course, there are people who are primarily interested in selling you their particular services, whether they are appropriate or not. With any treatment, you must ask yourself, “Is there any evidence that this works?”
Finding this evidence may be difficult, but it is important because you waste time and money trying ineffective treatments. Meanwhile, your teen may feel unhappy, hopeless and perhaps even suicidal. Moreover, some treatments haven’t been tested, and others have been researched in a less than satisfactory manner. You also need to consider that much depression research has been done with adults and is not always generalizable to teenagers.
Although it can be very helpful to talk with someone who has had a treatment you are considering, this person’s insight is not the same as evidence. Evidence, to be valid, must be based on large numbers of people who have used the treatment in controlled conditions. These results should then be compared with a control group people who though they were getting the treatment but weren’t.
You doctor may have up to date advice, but you should expect any practitioner to tell you why she is recommending a particular treatment, what you can expect, it might take to work, how much it costs and how she will monitor your teen’s progress. She should react to questions in a non defensive way. You should view with suspicion broad statements, such as “This always works,” or “There are never any side effects.”
Everything has possible side effects. We often think that unwanted effects are associated only with prescribed medication, but they can also occur with herbal therapy, psychotherapy and alternative treatments.