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Major Depressive Disorder in Young Children

What happens when being sad doesn’t go away? Or, what does it mean when a young child is jumpy, unfocused, sad, and angry, more often than not? When young children are diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) often medication and/or therapy are prescribed. Many times, despite our best efforts, children with MDD often relapse. A new study looked at children prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac) as well as relapse prevention cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Interestingly, regardless of whether children received relapse prevention treatment, 80% of them experienced remission; that means that 80% of children in the study got better! But there was a group of children who relapsed. Children in the fluoxetine and CBT relapse prevention group stayed mentally healthy more than three months longer than those just receiving medication. Booster CBT relapse prevention therapy, along with appropriate medication management, has been shown to be effective in helping children diagnosed with MDD. Reviewing mastered skills, before they are needed, can help prevent further relapse, and quicker recovery, so that kids can get back to being kids. Emslie, G.J., Kennard, B.D., Mayes, T.L., Nakonezny, P.A., Moore, J., Jones, J.M., … King, J. (2015). Continued effectiveness of relapse prevention cognitive-behavioral therapy following fluoxetine treatment in youth with major depressive disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54, 991-998. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2015.09.014

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Your Child

In my various roles as a mother, a friend, a psychologist, president and a board member of a psychological association, I meet a variety of people with different outlooks on life. Most people have their own opinions on how to do things. However, if I were to take everyone’s opinions as fact, I would be befuddled, and confused, and sometimes, paralyzed. To help me deal with several different perspectives, I need my own set of tools to help filter the information I receive. That way, I can analyze any given puzzle to find the solution that best works for me. In a nutshell, that is what cognitive behavioral therapy is. It provides tools to help one look at the world in a certain perspective. Cognitive behavioral therapy strives to adjust one’s thoughts, feelings and actions, so as to help one function in the world better. A trained cognitive behavioral therapist can help your child see the world differently from how he or she is accustomed to seeing it. We work on helping children recognize their thoughts as separate and apart from themselves; we work on talking back to those thoughts. Moreover, we work on knowing when something can’t be changed and how to accept that. A cognitive behavioral therapist teaches children how to be responsible for their own actions, and not those of others. When you change how you act, you can change other people’s actions and reactions as well. And when we change our thoughts and actions, our feelings change, too. In the end, it’s not the only way to view the world. But it’s about helping your child grasp the way that might make sense to him or her. And if it does, then it’s the best way to effect change.
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