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Major depressive and dysthymic disorders are recurrent and sometimes persistent unipolar mood disorders, which often present in childhood and adolescence. Depressive episodes may increase in severity and duration with recurrence and are associated with substantial morbidity and risk of suicide. The role of child and adolescent mental health services in early intervention and management is thus of major importance. This paper draws together current research evidence and common clinical practice, in guidelines for the specialist management of depressive disorders in childhood and adolescence. Both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy have been found to be beneficial for the acute treatment of children and adolescents with depressive disorders. Based on current evidence, psychotherapy may be the first treatment for most depressed youngsters, but antidepressants should be considered for those with severe depression. All patients need continuation therapy, and some will need maintenance treatment. Evidence supporting the efficacy of psychological and psychopharmacological treatments are reviewed. An integration of approaches is suggested as a guideline for treatment planning.

Original publication




Journal article


European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Publication Date





147 - 161