A leading psychiatrist’s history of depression helps shape his treatment of young people

“…there is one thing that can make all the difference: a relationship with an adult close enough to them, that supports them, listens to their distress and treats them as worthwhile.”

When Mike Shooter was in medical school, he suffered the first of what he calls “thunderous depressions.” More followed. Shooter’s efforts to come to grips with these experiences has made him acutely aware of what young people with mental-health problems endure and forged his career as a preeminent child psychiatrist in England. He was the first such specialist to be elected president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a position he held from 2002 to 2005. Recently he published “Growing Pains,” which is based on 40 years of working with young people. The book explains why it’s imperative to differentiate between depression and the ordinary but often intense difficulties some children face. He recently spoke with The Washington Post on these issues. This transcript was edited for clarity and length.

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