In order to develop the optimal treatment for a depressed youth, it is important to look at three areas as part of the biopsychosocial approach
to understanding what contributed to the depression.
The first area is the biological perspective. Since depression is often inherited genetically, it is important to look at a family history of depression. Medical disorders such as hypothyroidism and mononucleosis can mimic or exacerbate depression, underscoring the need for a complete physical exam by a primary care physician for any youth who may be depressed.
The second area is the psychological perspective. Depressed youth tend to think negatively, minimizing what they do well and blowing less important events out of proportion. Depressed children tend to have poor coping skills, which worsens the problems associated with depression.
The social perspective is the final area, looking at environmental reasons why youth become depressed. Parental conflict, separation, divorce or death, financial problems, harassment from peers, physical and sexual abuse, and family health problems (including mental health problems) are some of the stressors that can lead a youth to become depressed. Depression is a medical illness whose ultimate cause is a biochemical imbalance in which the brain?s neurotransmitter systems (e.g., serotonin and its receptor system) function less effectively. This generally results from a combination of environmental stressors affecting those youth who have a genetic predisposition to depression. The youth?s thinking errors further contribute to the depression.
Depression affects children starting at a younger age than in the past? children as young as four years of age have been indentified with and treated for depression.