Treating Teen and Adolescent Depression at Innercept

Depression is a common experience for teens and adolescents, with more and more individuals in this age group—especially girls—struggling with the condition.[i]

A widely misunderstood condition, depression is more than a case of the blues that teens can simply “snap out of” with prompting from others. Depression can take many emotional forms, from sadness to anger, numbness, or boredom. It can sap an individual’s energy and leave teenagers feeling hopeless. In severe cases, it can even lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts. This is why treating depression professionally is so crucial.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Many teens and adolescents face depression and related conditions without understanding the underlying causes or how to cope with them in a healthy way. Some may not even realize they are depressed. Others may withdraw socially, lose motivation in school, or act out. Some of the most common physical, emotional, and behavioral signs of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • An inability to feel happiness
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, or shame
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Social isolation or avoidance of regular activities
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Abrupt changes in behavior or performance in school[ii]

Depression occurs alongside anxiety at an alarming rate, with almost half of all individuals who have major depressive disorder also having been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.[iii] Depression’s interactions with these kinds of conditions, along with its unique effects on behavior, make it difficult for teens to confront alone.

A treatment plan that addresses the unique chemical, emotional, social, and physical roots of a teen’s depression and related conditions is key. That’s why Innercept’s approach tackles depression and other mental health challenges from every possible angle.

Treating the Underlying Causes of Depression

Depression takes many different forms. When teens try to face their depression alone, they often simply want to feel better and will try to distract themselves with activities or feelings they enjoy. This may help in the moment, but it does nothing to uproot the real causes of the condition. It can also worsen matters if the coping mechanisms they choose are destructive. Treating depression effectively means understanding the kind of depression your teen faces, as well as its root causes. Common forms of depression include:

  • Major depressive disorder is a condition where episodes of low moods, restlessness, and related physical symptoms occur regularly. Treatment for major depressive disorder depends on the severity of symptoms, but usually combines depression-oriented psychotherapy with appropriate medications. Electroconvulsive therapy, where medical professionals attach small electrodes to stimulate the brain while patients are under anesthesia, has also proven helpful in treating depression that is resistant to common treatments.[iv] The goal is to reduce depressive episodes into “remission” – defined as 3 weeks without sad mood and reduced interest in activities, in addition to a reduction in other symptoms.[v]
  • Persistent depressive disorder, previously referred to as dysthymia or chronic depressive disorder, is characterized by depressive symptoms that persist over a year or longer in teens. Symptoms can be less severe than in major depressive disorder, but occur over a longer period. PDD is treated similarly to MDD with tools like cognitive and interpersonal therapy, appropriate medication, and lifestyle changes.
  • Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of energetic, emotional highs—known as mania or manic episodes—along with mood swings to emotional lows, known as depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder is technically distinct from depression, although depressive episodes experienced can show many similar symptoms to MDD and PDD.

Innercept’s caring team of mental health professionals can help teens identify the kinds of depression they are facing and develop healthy coping strategies to manage difficult emotions. From stabilizing mood swings to reworking negative self-beliefs and limiting thought patterns, Innercept helps teens with depressive disorders build emotional skills for stability and growth. Depression is a complicated group of mental illnesses, with each case presenting differently. Understanding these causes and learning what solutions a particular teen or young adult responds to is crucial for effective treatment. So is building healthy lifestyle habits into treatment that assist in the physical, mental, and social elements of depression. Innercept’s integral approach to treatment includes all of these treatment modalities so teens can have a whole-person plan for tackling this difficult condition.

Innercept’s Approach to Depression Treatment

Through consultations and in-depth discussions with staff, family, and the teens and young adults we work with, we learn what each client’s mental health history looks like in detail. This understanding is the foundation for the individualized treatment plans we provide to help clients tackle depression and related conditions. When we understand how depression impacts a client’s life, from their relationships with others to their self-image and emotional health, we can build a plan that meets their struggles with targeted strategies.

Personalized Therapeutic Support for Depression

Cognitive therapies, conducted one-on-one and in groups with peers, are one crucial element of depression treatment at Innercept. During these sessions, we build trust and grow our understanding of our client’s challenges with depression. We provide clients a safe, respectful environment in which to discuss their depression, how it impacts their lives, and the tools they may have used to cope with it in the past. We also introduce emotional regulation and coping strategies.

A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment

Innercept’s integral approach doesn’t just treat depression with cognitive therapy. In addition to medication management, we lay the foundation for health across all areas of life, with life skills training in helpful areas like healthy cooking to the development of regular exercise programs.

We engage clients and encourage them to build values and a sense of meaning with volunteering opportunities throughout the community. We also introduce them to new hobbies, like horticulture and art therapy, that let them see the results of their work and dedication firsthand and lead them down exciting new paths for growth.

This multi-pronged approach to mental health treatment ensures that clients can tackle their depression from multiple angles to grow into a greater sense of well-being and confidence.


[i] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/12/a-growing-number-of-american-teenagers-particularly-girls-are-facing-depression/

[ii] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326872#symptoms

[iii] https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20030305

[iv] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/electroconvulsive-therapy/about/pac-20393894

[v] https://psychiatryonline.org/pb/assets/raw/sitewide/practice_guidelines/guidelines/mdd-guide.pdf

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