More adolescents with depressive symptoms
The number of 15- to 17-year-olds newly developing depression during the pandemic rose loudly DAK Children and Youth Report in 2020 by eight percent compared to the previous year. Also nationwide COPSY study at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf showed an increase in mental health problems and depressive symptoms in winter 2020/2021 compared to the time before the pandemic. Loud Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists the proportion of children and adolescents with depressive symptoms is now 15 percent.
In general, about 1 percent of children and 5 percent of adolescents suffer from a depressive disorder. The risk of developing depression increases after puberty. Teenage girls are affected about twice as often as boys.
You can do it without antidepressants
What helps the affected children and young people? This is what scientists at Danube University Krems did on behalf of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) examined.
They wanted to know what psychotherapy brings to the treatment of depression in children and adolescents. To do this, the researchers evaluated 13 reviews with data from 150 studies. The result: Antidepressants do not have to be used for treatment. Certain forms of psychotherapy help young people just as well.
Two forms of therapy alleviate depressive symptoms
The researchers compared different forms of psychotherapy: cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic and interpersonal psychotherapy.
Two forms of therapy showed positive effects: The cognitive Verhaltenstherapie and the interpersonelle Psychotherapie. Both can relieve depressive symptoms in children and adolescents and perform no worse than treatment with antidepressants. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change stressful thought patterns. Interpersonal psychotherapy helped those affected to deal with interpersonal conflicts. According to the team of scientists, the study situation on psychodynamic psychotherapy was not sufficient to conclusively assess the effectiveness.
Green environment can empower children
Scientists are also researching which factors influence the development of mental illnesses. Researchers at the Danish University of Aarhus found out that children who grow up in the countryside or near green spaces have a risk of mental illness that is up to 55 percent lower than children who grow up without a green environment. The researchers compared health data from around 900,000 Danes with landscape photographs from Denmark from 1985 to 2013.
Depression more common in densely built-up areas
It showed that those who grew up in densely built-up areas up to the age of ten suffered from depression and low mood more often as adults than their peers who grew up in greener areas. “A green environment can promote periods of relaxation, physical activity and social contacts,” say the authors. Rest also strengthens mental development, less air pollution strengthens the immune system. The researchers appeal to urban planners to work towards more greenery and nature in cities.
Help with depression and other mental illnesses
- Fluoxetine is the only drug approved for the treatment of depression in children and adolescents. It can be used in children from the age of eight with moderate to severe depression if there is no improvement after four to six sessions of psychotherapeutic treatment. Doctors prescribe other antidepressants for children that are not licensed. In our Drugs in Test database you will find reviews for many drugs for depression. Read our test of remedies with St. John’s wort to find out which herbal mood enhancers are worth trying.
- Psychotherapie online.
- There is now also online psychotherapy for children and adolescents. We tested eight online adult depression programs: Four are recommended.
- Apps on the smartphone can also help against some mental illnesses. We tested apps against anxiety disorders.
- Our guide to depression. Doing the right thing gives support to family and friends of those affected. The book Overcoming Depression is aimed primarily at those affected. The guide for help with anorexia and bulimia gives specific tips to support friends and relatives with eating disorders.