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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do we know whether our grandson should get help from a psychologist or psychiatrist for his depression?

    My grandson has been suffering from suicidal depression for over a year now. He has seen various psychiastrists and psychologists. He does not seem to be improving. He has learnt some strategies to cope but is still extremely depressed. We have not had luck with psychiatrists but one of the psychologists did get him to talk and he trusted her. We would like him to continue with her but he needs a psychiatrist to give him medications. Can you help with any ideas. He has just turned 16 years old. We are extremely worried.
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  • Emma Djukic

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Emma Djukic is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in the assessment and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents. These include: Bullying … View Profile

    Mood disorders in adolescents are usually very complicated and may be influenced by many factors including family stresses, problems with peers, school and study pressures…to name but a few.  The main features may be depressed mood, episodes of tearfulness, irritability, withdrawal from usual activities, and in severe cases thoughts of self-harm and suicide. There can certainly also be a biological, or physical, component that might present as excessive lethargy, a reversed sleep-wake cycle (sleeping during the day and staying up late into the night) and changes to appetite.  Because of this complexity it is important that all aspects of depression are being addressed at the same time…this means that a team approach, including the family GP, a clincial psychologist, school counsellor and a psychiatrist, is often most helpful.  There is no doubt that your grandson needs a ‘safe place’ to explore his difficulties, identify goals and work towards them with a person that he trusts - treatments offered by healthcare professionals such as Clinical Psychologists can help to provide this care.  However the biological features of depression can interfere with the treatment efficacy of psychotherapy, so medication prescribed by a psychiatrist may be necessary prior to, or during, treatment with a clincial psychologist.  You may wish to get further advice about child and adolscent psychiatrists from your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (contact your local public hospital for details) or phone the Mental Health Information Service on 1300 794 991.  I wish you and your grandson all the best.

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