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The Depression Treatment Gap for Teens — And How to Close It

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Teenagers are notoriously moody, irritable, and fond of isolating in bedrooms. Parents expect a degree of angst at the onslaught of adolescence — but for some teens, this angst exceeds healthy norms.

These teens no longer enjoy their favorite activities, and are withdrawn and irritable to the extent that behave like different people.

Teens who fit this description may be struggling with major depressive disorder, a serious — and common — condition. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH),1 20% of teens had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the preceding year, with 75% of these episodes causing “severe impairment.” During that year, 13% of adolescents had serious thoughts of suicide and 6% — 1.5 million teens — made a suicide plan.Depression is a condition for which evidence-based, highly effective interventions exist, yet only 41% of teens with major depression receive treatment.

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