Question: What do I do if my depressed child or adolescent resists being evaluated and diagnosed?
Answer: We can almost turn that question on its head. It's very unusual to find a child or adolescent who's in a big hurry to go see a psychiatrist. Often they're dragged in to some extent, and they'd rather be doing other things -- staying at home, watching TV, playing video games. And kids are very, very good at hiding their depressive symptoms.
So when it gets to the point where they're being taken to see a child psychiatrist, usually their symptoms are quite bad. In those instances, it's often the children's friends who have suggested to them -- especially among adolescents -- that they go see a doctor for this, and it's often the children's friends who talk to the parents. It's helpful then for parents to ask the children to remember that their friends are worried about them, because kids are very, very tuned in to what their friends think about them.
Once they get into the office, a good child psychiatrist or a good clinician, for that matter, will spend a lot of time building an alliance way before they address what medications might be useful, what kinds of treatments might be useful. All of the treatments in the world won't work if the child won't take part in them. So you build that alliance first, and then you move forward.