When Teens with Depression Receive Treatment, Parents Might Get Better, Too

As mental health professionals, we know from experience that teen depression doesn’t only affect the individual. It can affect the whole family.

Now, recent research confirms what we’ve known all along – “When teens are treated for depression, their parents’ mental health improves, too.

According to NPR, the study was conducted by Howard, a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and her adviser, Mark Reinecke. The team analyzed data from a 2008 study that followed more than 300 adolescents over the course of around nine months receiving treatment for depression through either or both counseling and medication.

According to their findings, about a quarter of parents were also experiencing high levels of depression before the teens began treatment. The good news? “Parental symptoms improved over the course of the study,” said Howard, at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference in San Francisco on August 11.

Adolescent and Family Health Therapy Programs

While our primary focus at Paradigm is on the adolescent, we know that teens are not the only ones going through hard times.

“Families function as systems. Anything that affects one part of the system impacts the entire system,” says Dr. Jeff Nalin, Chief Clinical Officer at Paradigm Treatment.

“When parents of an adolescent struggling with emotional issues come to our program, they are suffering right alongside their child. Treatment becomes an opportunity for the entire family to examine how each member contributes to the system and how they can upgrade their interactions, communications, and behaviors in ways that better fit the ever changing needs of each member,” says Dr. Nalin.

This is why we incorporate family health as part of a holistic approach to teen depression treatment.

At Paradigm, we provide a wide range of programs for families, including individual family therapy, multi-family therapy, parent coaching, sibling support services, and ongoing parent support services.

“We provide weekly individual family therapy with every client. Every weekend, we have families come to the center to participate in parenting classes, communication skills groups as well as multi-family therapy groups — all designed to allow greater communication between each member of the family.”

With the family programs provided, we notice a significant change in parents’ attitudes and moods.

“We’ve seen many cases where there is a significant shift between a young person and their family where prior to treatment there was a seriously strained relationship between one or both of the parents,” says Jeff.

“When family members are willing to learn how to communicate, relationships are set on a new tack and begin to heal before they even leave the treatment facility.”

At Paradigm, we feel pretty proud when we witness this beautiful harmony up close.