The mental health crisis affecting teens in the United States continues to be a growing concern. The number of adolescents reporting poor mental health, specifically major depression, is on the rise. Today’s teens are facing challenges that didn’t exist years ago. Some of these issues include unrelenting academic pressure, social media comparisons, cyber-bullying, and social determinants such as isolation that stemmed from COVID.
According to Mental Health America, up to 20% of adolescents ages 12-17 report suffering from at least one major depressive episode, while over 2.7 million youth are experiencing severe major depression.1 Depression in teens is severely impairing their ability to function at school, work, home, or in their social life.
While there are many medications available to treat teenagers with depression, adherence is the key to ensuring these treatments work. Antidepressants can take 4-6 weeks to begin relieving symptoms, and 2-3 months to reach their full effect. Patients must be diligent about taking their medications according to their prescribed therapy regimen to maximize treatment results. However, many teens often skip doses or discontinue treatment altogether due to unwanted side effects, stigma associated with a mental health disorder, feeling better for the time being, or simply forgetting to take their medication. This disruption of therapy can have dangerous consequences.
The unspoken truth about the abrupt discontinuation of these drugs is they can lead to Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome (ADS). About 20% of patients who suddenly stop treatment experience ADS and suffer from withdrawal symptoms including flu-like symptoms, insomnia, nausea, agitation, imbalance, sensory disturbances, and hyperarousal.2 Symptoms may be mild, lasting between one and two weeks, but they can also be severe enough to lead to suicide or hospitalization in some patients. Additionally, failure to recognize ADS may results in psychiatric misdiagnosis causing unnecessary and potentially risky medication interventions. Consequently, patients with mental health disorders may avoid antipsychotics in the future – leading them down a broken path to mental wellness.
So how do we effectively monitor adherence? It can be hard to gauge medication adherence when solely relying only on a teenager’s self-reported usage. One study found that 25% of patients told their doctors they were taking their antidepressant medication when, in fact, the pharmacy database showed that they were not.3 Inaccurate response can lead to poor clinical outcomes and greater depression. To ensure our youth are safe and healthy, proven solutions for effective medication management must be integrated into the patient’s daily medication routine. Without incorporating continuous mental health monitoring and real time adherence oversight, we are simply offering our teenagers pills in a bottle.
Our teens deserve better.
Fortunately, technology is making things better. Digital health companies have introduced advanced technologies that enhance the patient experience and provide the best possible clinical outcomes. Perigon Health 360 has developed a revolutionary digital health platform that is creating a shift in the way we monitor and manage treatment regimens. With a patient-centric philosophy, the Medesto platform is tapping into the root of what propels successful medication adherence.
Through Medesto, teenagers have access to quick, convenient, and confidential medication management tools that create behavior modification to successfully overcome obstacles causing non-compliance. The Medesto health platform drives adherence through remote therapy monitoring, daily medication reminders, medication dispense tracking information and patient education. And because technology is a way of life for teens, using smart phones and other electronic devices to take charge of their health journey is more desirable than traditional office visits.
Furthermore, access to Medesto through smart technology equals smarter support.
Medesto provides ongoing support with a 360 view of critical health data that streamlines collaboration between teens, parents, and physicians. Real-time insights to adherence allow the patient’s designated care team to pivot quickly and adjust treatment if necessary. This shared knowledge closes the gap between patient relapses and treatment success rates.
While we strive to mitigate the complexities associated with managing mental health disorders and its impact on adolescents, Perigon Health 360 has created real-world, digital solutions that take the guesswork out of delivering effective care; ensuring our teens achieve improved outcomes and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.