Young people with depression should be reassured that their poor concentration and memory are often part of the illness and don’t mean they’re “dumb”, says an expert in mental health.

An Australian study has revealed widespread cognitive functioning difficulties among teens and adolescents with depression.

The findings, published in the journal Neuropsychology Review, have prompted calls for a rethink on how depression is treated in the young.

Dr Kelly Allott at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth says traditional cognitive behavioural therapy or talking therapy might not be as effective because they require high levels of cognitive ability.

If a young patient is unable to engage or focus properly in a therapy session then this can feed into the depression and enhance their sense of worthlessness, said Dr Allott.

Many study participants reported walking out of a therapy session and within a minute had forgotten everything that was discussed, she said.

“When they experience not being able to remember conversations or not being able to focus on what’s going on then it actually makes them feel worse about themselves and feeds into their depression even more,” she said.

“It’s kind of like a continuing spiral.”

– Sarah Wiedersehn

Read more: Treatment for Depressed Kids Needs Rethink

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