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Health Capsules
November 2007
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Treatment for Depressed Teens

Teenage depression is a serious concern. By some estimates, about 5% of adolescents suffer with major depression. A new NIH-funded study has found that the best treatment for depressed teens may be a combination of talk therapy and medicine.

Researchers looked at 439 adolescents diagnosed with depression. They were 12-17 years old when the study began. Some were treated only with the depression-fighting drug fluoxetine—also known as Prozac. Others had talk therapy sessions with a mental health professional but no medicine. A third group had a combination of talk therapy and medicine.

The study showed that combination therapy was the most effective overall. After 18 weeks, 85% of teens taking the combination treatment got better, but less than 70% of those taking only the drug or talk therapy improved. Even after 36 weeks, combination therapy continued to help more teens than the other approaches.

Early in the study, the researchers found that teens who took fluoxetine got better faster, with or without talk therapy. But more teens taking fluoxetine alone reported suicidal thinking, especially in the early stages of therapy. Adding talk therapy seemed to help vulnerable teenagers steer clear of suicidal thoughts.

The study included a mix of younger and older teens, from different ethnic and racial groups and a range of social and economic backgrounds, so the researchers say their results should apply to the adolescent population overall.

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Signs of Depression

Depression is a serious medical illness that can interfere with your everyday life. Talk with your doctor if you experience some of these symptoms for a week or more:

  • Sad or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
  • Loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

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  African Americans and Kidney Disease

Are you at risk for kidney disease?  It affects people of all races, but African Americans are at higher risk, mostly because they have higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, the two leading causes of kidney disease.  Other risk factors include heart disease and a family history of kidney disease.

Kidney disease is difficult to detect in its early stages, because it doesn’t make you feel sick.  That’s why tests are needed to catch kidney disease as soon as possible.  If it’s not treated, kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.  Then, your only options are dialysis or a kidney transplant. 

NIH has created a new easy-to-read brochure called Kidney Disease: What African Americans Need to Know.  It helps to explain the connections between risk factors and kidney disease.  It describes the simple blood and urine tests doctors use to find kidney disease.  It also offers tips for keeping your kidneys healthy.

Take the first step.  Talk to your doctor or nurse about your kidneys and ask if you should be tested for kidney disease.  Get the new brochure by visiting or calling 1-866-4KIDNEY (1-866-454-3639).


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NIH Multimedia Gallery

Want to see and hear more about the latest research that can affect your health? Listen to NIH’s weekly radio shows, and download our podcasts. Or watch i on NIH, the new monthly half-hour video podcast—or vodcast—that brings you the latest news about medical research. To find these, check out the new Multimedia Gallery on the NIH web site.

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