Achieving adolescent adherence to treatment of major depression
Lakeland Mental Health Center, Moorhead, MN, USA
Abstract: When treatments are ordered for adolescent major depression, or for other adolescent medical illnesses, adherence and clinical outcomes are likely to be unsatisfactory, unless 4 basic principles of the medical treatment of adolescent illness are implemented. These comprise providing effective patient and parent/caregiver education, establishing effective patient and caregiver therapeutic alliances, providing effective treatment, and managing other factors associated with treatment adherence as indicated. The goals of treatment are to achieve the earliest possible response and remission. Failure to treat adolescent major depression successfully has potentially serious consequences, including worsened adherence, long-term morbidity, and suicide attempt. Accordingly, prescribed treatment must be aggressively managed. Doses of an antidepressant medication should be increased as rapidly as can be tolerated, preferably every 1–2 weeks, until full remission is achieved or such dosing is limited by the emergence of unacceptable adverse effects. A full range of medication treatment options must be employed if necessary. Treatment adherence, occurrence of problematic adverse effects, clinical progress, and safety must be systematically monitored. Adolescents with major depression must be assessed for risk of harm to self or others. When this risk appears significant, likelihood of successful outcomes will be enhanced by use of treatment plans that comprehensively address factors associated with treatment nonadherence. Abbreviated and comprehensive plans for the treatment of potentially fatal adolescent illnesses are outlined in this review.
Keywords: adolescent, depression, antidepressant, treatment, adherence, safety
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