Depression is far more of a common complaint among primary school children and adolescents than people realize. It can affect nearly 2 per cent of primary school children, and double the number of adolescents.
Despite this growing problem which, at its worse, can lead to suicide modern medicine seems unable to treat it. A recent study, carried out by the University of Newcastle in Australia, found that the range of tricyclic drugs used to treat depression were ineffective among the young.
One reason, researchers believe, is because the neurotransmitter systems have not matured in children, so rendering the drugs useless. It could also be that the hormonal activity in adolescents works against the effects of the drugs.
Instead of reaching for the prescription pad, doctors should instead try some other lines of treatment, such as family therapy, supportive psychotherapy and specific psychotherapy, the researchers suggest (BMJ, April 8, 1995).