The Depression Service at the Child Mind Institute offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment for children, adolescents and young adults struggling with mood disorders, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and other disruptive mood problems.
Mood disorders in youth frequently go unrecognized. The delay in treatment often leads to unnecessary suffering and increased problems with all aspects of daily functioning. In addition, untreated mood disorders too often lead to lifelong mental health struggles.
The symptoms that children, adolescents and young adults can experience, including persistent feelings of sadness, irritability or explosive anger, and impulsive decision-making, can be debilitating and disruptive to their lives as well as to the functioning of their families.
If you suspect that your child may be depressed or having difficulties managing his emotions, it is important to get an evaluation by a clinician who is experienced in treating these disorders. Early detection and appropriate treatment can lead to a better prognosis.
Our multidisciplinary team of clinical psychologists, board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists and a clinical social worker are experts in the most current assessment and treatment approaches.
Step One – Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
During the evaluation process, our clinicians obtain a full history to understand if the presenting symptoms indicate the presence of a mood disorder. We begin by interviewing (often separately and together) the child and her parents, as well as gathering information from a variety of other sources including teachers, previous therapists and pediatricians. We also use gold-standard diagnostic measures to better assess the symptoms and concerns. After the evaluation is completed, we provide comprehensive feedback and treatment recommendations.
Step Two – Treatment
We incorporate the latest research about effective treatments and apply it with sensitivity to the experiences and needs of each person. We use evidence-based treatments to effectively resolve symptoms and teach children, adolescents and young adults skills to maintain their success in the long term. Treatment may be provided individually, or may also involve parents and/or other family members.
Depending on the presentation of symptoms, psychotherapy treatments may include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most widely researched form of therapy for mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. With CBT, children, adolescents and young adults learn about the connections among their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Once these connections are made, patients and therapists actively collaborate to meet specific goals, such as helping patients notice and change their unhelpful thoughts, improving their problem-solving abilities and increasing their involvement in positive activities that promote healthy choices. Treatment may also include Behavioral Activation — planned activities aimed at promoting increased mood and energy level.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is recommended for adolescents and young adults who have difficulty regulating their emotions. DBT involves learning skills to tolerate distress, manage strong and upsetting emotions, decrease impulsive behaviors, including self-harm, and improve relationships with friends and family. Learn more about DBT.
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Adolescents (IPT-A) is a time-limited treatment (12-16 sessions) originally developed to treat adult depression that has been adapted for adolescents. IPT-A addresses common issues involving romantic relationships, communicating with parents and effectively interacting with peers. The treatment primarily includes individual therapy sessions, and may also include some sessions with parents to learn about depression, address parent-child relationship difficulties and help support their child’s treatment.
Use of medication in the treatment of mood disorders: Research has demonstrated that for many patients with mood disorders, medication may play an important role in symptom relief, recovery and prevention of future mood episodes. When medication may be helpful, our team works with board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists at the Child Mind Institute or collaborates with your physician. Our psychiatrists offer expert consultation on whether medication can improve treatment outcome, and provide ongoing medication management when desired.
Additional components of treatment include parent management skills training and support, psychoeducation, and collaboration with your child’s school. We take a personalized approach to each patient and family, understanding that not all children, adolescents, and young adults are the same, and treatment should be sensitively designed for each patient.
To make an appointment, call us at (212) 308-3118 or request an appointment online.