Major Depressive Disorder
Behavioral treatment of major depression is well researched with several cognitive behavioral processes potentially playing an important roles in clinical outcomes. At the Child Anxiety Center treatment typically involves teaching of coping and emotional regulation strategies such as cognitive reappraisal and acceptance as a means to address unhelpful thought patterns and intense feelings. A second component to treatment is called behavioral activation, which is a structured method for values, reinforcement, and activity monitoring. Drawing from applied behavioral analysis, the clinician will work with the child to think about their behavior from a functional perspective - addressing what the behavior lead to - while determining which activities are in alignment with their values and most likely to increase their access to reinforcement. This is always done in conjunction with parent training to ensure that the child has access to a validating environment that encourages more adaptive behaviors.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental disorders present in children and is most likely to present itself in adolescence. When a child experiences a depressed mood over an extended period of time - two or more weeks - it may be a sign of MDD. Although ups and downs are quite common among children, major depression involves an extended period of sadness or irritability that is characterized by its impairment to functioning and its persistence. This is not a condition that a child can simply "wish away." Major depression has the ability to disrupt a child's life in multiple domains including behavior, appetite, energy level, sleep patterns, relationships, and academic performance. Children who are depressed tend to think very negatively about themselves and their circumstances. They may be very judgmental towards themselves, feel hopeless, and withdraw from people they care about and from their typical interests and activities. In more severe cases, it may lead to drug usage, suicidal ideation, or patterns of self-harm.