NURS 6630 Assessing and Treating Vulnerable Populations for Depressive Disorders

Sample Answer for NURS 6630 Assessing and Treating Vulnerable Populations for Depressive Disorders Included After Question


  • Review this week’s Learning Resources, including the Medication Resources indicated for this week.
  • Reflect on the psychopharmacologic treatments you might recommend for the assessment and treatment of vulnerable patient populations requiring antidepressant therapy.


For this assignment, you will develop a patient medication guide for treatment of depressive disorders in a vulnerable population (your choice for one vulnerable patient population to choose from: children, adolescents, older adults, dementia patients, pregnant women or one not listed of your choice!). Be sure to use language appropriate for your audience (patient, caregiver, parent, etc.). You will include non-copyright images and/or information tables to make your patient medication guide interesting and appealing. Limit your patient medication guide to 5 pages. You will create this guide as an assignment; therefore, a title page, introduction, conclusion, and reference page are required. You must include a minimum of 3 scholarly supporting resources outside of your course provided resources.

In your patient guide, include discussion on the following:

  • Depressive disorder causes and symptoms
  • How depression is diagnosed for the vulnerable population of your choice, why is this population considered vulnerable
  • Medication treatment options including risk vs benefits; side effects; FDA approvals for the vulnerable population of your choice
  • Medication considerations of medication examples prescribed (see last bullet item)
  • What is important to monitor in terms of labs, comorbid medical issues with why important for monitoring
  • Special Considerations (you must be specific, not general and address at least one for EACH category; you must demonstrate critical thinking beyond basics of HIPPA and informed consent!): legal considerations, ethical considerations, cultural considerations, social determinants of health
  • Where to follow up in your local community for further information
  • Provide 3 examples of how to write a proper prescription that you would provide to the patient or transmit to the pharmacy. 

Note: Support your rationale with a minimum of five academic resources. While you may use the course text to support your rationale, it will not count toward the resource requirement. You should be utilizing the primary and secondary literature.

Reminder: The College of Nursing requires that all papers submitted include a title page, introduction, summary, and references. The Sample Paper provided at the Walden Writing CenterLinks to an external site. provides an example of those required elements (available at to an external site.. All papers submitted must use this formatting.

A Sample Answer For the Assignment: NURS 6630 Assessing and Treating Vulnerable Populations for Depressive Disorders

Title: NURS 6630 Assessing and Treating Vulnerable Populations for Depressive Disorders  

Depressive disorders are a source of considerable disease burden to the global population. The disorders affect productivity, lower the quality of life of the affected populations, and cause premature mortalities. Pharmacological interventions are the mainstream treatments for depressive disorders. Nurse practitioners should be aware of the safety, indications, and monitoring of different populations prescribed medications for depressive disorders. Therefore, this essay examines the medications used in treating major depression in children and adolescents, considerations, monitoring, follow-up, diagnosis, and its causes and symptoms.

Causes and Symptoms

Major depression in children and adolescents is an important public health concern since it affects 5% of 12-year-olds and 17% of 17-year-olds in America. Psychological, biological, and environmental factors cause major depression in children and adolescents. Some of the biological risk factors associated with major depression include overweight, female sex, having a family history of depression, early puberty in girls, chronic illness, and polymorphisms that affect dopamine, serotonin, or monoamine oxidase genes. Some of the psychological factors that cause major depression in this population include dysfunctional emotional regulation, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, negative thinking, and substance abuse (Boaden et al., 2020; Farley, 2020). Environmental causes of major depression among children and adolescents include bullying, victimization, exposure to traumatic events, parental rejection, and dysfunctional families.

 Children and adolescents affected by major depression present to the hospital with a range of symptoms. They include hypersomnia or insomnia, weight gain or loss, difficulty concentrating, lack of interest and pleasure, easy irritability, and feeling sad or hopeless. Patients also report difficulties in making decisions, feeling guilty, and suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts (Dwyer & Bloch, 2019; Selph & McDonagh, 2019). The symptoms affect the patient’s normal functioning in areas such as academic and social activities.

Diagnosing the Disorder and Why the Population is Considered Vulnerable

            Screening tools such as PHQ-A are used in the diagnosis of major depression in children and adolescents. The screening tool helps healthcare providers rate the client’s depressive symptoms and rule out other potential causes such as generalized anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder. Major depression can present with symptoms that are seen in other conditions such as hypothyroidism. As a result, healthcare providers must perform laboratory investigations such as thyroid function tests to rule out other comorbidities. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5) also guides the diagnosis of major depression in children and adolescents. The DSM-5 manual sets the criteria that must be met for a diagnosis of major depression to be made (Selph & McDonagh, 2019). For example, patients should report symptoms such as being depressed almost every day most of the time, lack of interest and pleasure, changes in appetite and weight, being hopeless or guilty, having difficulties concentrating and making decisions, and symptoms affecting normal functioning.

NURS 6630 Assessing and Treating Vulnerable Populations for Depressive Disorders
NURS 6630 Assessing and Treating Vulnerable Populations for Depressive Disorders

            Children and adolescents are considered a vulnerable population. Firstly, children and adolescents are not mature enough to make safe decisions about issues that affect their health. Children and adolescents rely on others for decision-making and support. As a result, they are at risk of harm and practices that affect their health outcomes. Children and adolescents are also highly vulnerable to social, emotional, and physical changes. Exposure to negative experiences such as abuse, or violence can alter significantly their normal development and progression to adulthood. This makes them a vulnerable group to other health problems based on their environmental exposures. Children and adolescents also have immature body systems and organs. This means that, unlike adults, children and adolescents are prone to harm from medications used for different conditions. Their risk of developing side and adverse effects due to immature organs involved in drug metabolism and elimination is higher than in adults (Farley, 2020). Therefore, they are considered a vulnerable population and caution must be taken when treating mental health problems that affect them.

Medication Treatment Options and Examples

            The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved escitalopram and fluoxetine for use in treating major depression in children and adolescents. The guidelines recommend the use of fluoxetine in children who are aged eight years and older while escitalopram is used for patients who are aged 12 years and above. The other FDA-non-approved antidepressants used for treating major depression in this population include paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram, and fluvoxamine (Feeney et al., 2022). Bupropion and mirtazapine might also be considered despite the lack of adequate evidence that supports their use in the population.

            Antidepressants have the benefit of managing the depressive symptoms of major depression. The improvement in symptoms results in enhanced functioning, well-being, and quality of life. Antidepressants also reduce the risk of symptom relapse among children and adolescents with major depression. However, practitioners should be aware of the risks associated with antidepressants. They include predisposing patients to suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts. Patients might also suffer from a negative self-image from weight gain associated with antidepressants (Boaden et al., 2020; Dwyer & Bloch, 2019). Patients and their families should also be educated about anticipated side effects such as insomnia, sedation, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal upset, hyperhidrosis, and dry mouth.


            Close patient monitoring should be done for children and adolescents prescribed antidepressants. Firstly, children and adolescents should be monitored for suicide risks. Antidepressants are associated with the adverse effect of increasing the risk of suicide in patients. Laboratory investigations such as a lipid panel and complete blood count should be performed periodically. Antidepressants are associated with side effects such as weight gain. Patients should be assessed for cardiovascular risks such as hyperlipidemia with weight gain (Hazell, 2022). Blood pressure and weight should also be assessed regularly, and patients advised on effective interventions to promote healthy weight gain.  

Healthcare providers should also monitor children and adolescents for pediatric behavioral activation syndrome. The syndrome can be diagnosed based on symptoms such as mania, hyperactivity, and agitation. Patients should also be monitored for serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome develops among patients with dual antidepressant therapy (Zhou et al., 2020). Patients with serotonin syndrome present to the hospital with symptoms that include hypertension, diarrhea, sweating, hyperthermia, and tachycardia.

Special Considerations

            Several considerations influence drug therapy for children and adolescents diagnosed with major depression. Firstly, ethical considerations influence the selected treatments. Ethical principles such as autonomy and non-maleficence guide the practitioner’s decisions. Autonomy entails protecting a client’s right to self-determination. Healthcare providers ensure informed consent is obtained from the parents and legal custodians of the children and adolescents when treating major depression (Dwyer & Bloch, 2019). They also make decisions that are associated with optimum benefits such as a reduction in symptoms of major depression and minimum risk of patient harm.

            Legal considerations also affect the treatment of major depression in children and adolescents. Healthcare providers must ensure data privacy and confidentiality when treating major depression in children and adolescents. They should ensure that unauthorized parties do not access the patient’s data. Informed consent should be obtained before sharing the information with other healthcare providers. Healthcare providers must also make decisions in the client’s best interest to prevent negligence in their practice. Nurse practitioners should also be aware of the effect of culture on treatment outcomes in children and adolescents with major depression. Cultural practices associated with mental health problems such as stigma and isolation lower treatment utilization and adherence (Zhou et al., 2020). Healthcare providers must advocate the adoption of strategies that address stereotypes related to mental health problems in their communities.

            Social determinants of health also influence major depression among children and adolescents. Children and adolescents born to poor families are likely to experience barriers in accessing their needed mental healthcare services due to issues such as cost. Income and education levels also influence the access to and utilization of mental health services by this population (Sokol et al., 2019). Therefore, addressing social determinants of health would result in increased access to mental healthcare services for children and adolescents.


            Antidepressants take between two and six weeks to produce the desired effects in managing depressive symptoms. Therefore, patients should be followed up after two weeks to assess their response to treatment and identify any issues that should be addressed for optimum treatment outcomes. Patients should also be linked with social support groups for mental health problems to help them learn effective ways to cope with their conditions.

Examples of Proper Prescription

Name: L.L.

Age: 12 years

Diagnosis: Major depression

Treatment: Oral sertraline 25 mg OD for two weeks

Refills: none

Follow-up: after two weeks

Name of the prescriber and DEA number:

Name: Y.Y.

Age: 14 years

Diagnosis: Major depression

Treatment: Oral escitalopram 25 mg once daily for two weeks

Refills: none

Follow-up: two weeks

Name of the prescriber and DEA number:

Name: L.A.

Age: 17 years

Diagnosis: Major depression

Treatment: Oral Fluoxetine 25 mg once daily for two weeks

Refills: none

Follow-up: two weeks

Name of the prescriber and DEA number:


            In summary, major depression in children and adolescents is the selected depressive disorder of focus in this assignment. FDA-approved and non-approved antidepressants are used in treating major depression in children and adolescents. Healthcare providers should weigh the benefits and risks of the available treatment. Legal, ethical, and cultural considerations and social determinants of health inform treatment decisions in children and adolescents diagnose with major depression.


Boaden, K., Tomlinson, A., Cortese, S., & Cipriani, A. (2020). Antidepressants in Children and Adolescents: Meta-Review of Efficacy, Tolerability and Suicidality in Acute Treatment. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11.

Dwyer, J. B., & Bloch, M. H. (2019). Antidepressants for Pediatric Patients. Current Psychiatry, 18(9), 26-42F.

Farley, H. R. (2020). Assessing mental health in vulnerable adolescents. Nursing2023, 50(10), 48.

Feeney, A., Hock, R. S., Fava, M., Hernández Ortiz, J. M., Iovieno, N., & Papakostas, G. I. (2022). Antidepressants in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder and the influence of placebo response: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 305, 55–64.

Hazell, P. (2022). Antidepressants in adolescence. Australian Prescriber, 45(2).

Selph, S. S., & McDonagh, M. S. (2019). Depression in Children and Adolescents: Evaluation and Treatment. DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS, 100(10).

Sokol, R., Austin, A., Chandler, C., Byrum, E., Bousquette, J., Lancaster, C., Doss, G., Dotson, A., Urbaeva, V., Singichetti, B., Brevard, K., Wright, S. T., Lanier, P., & Shanahan, M. (2019). Screening Children for Social Determinants of Health: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics, 144(4), e20191622.

Zhou, X., Teng, T., Zhang, Y., Giovane, C. D., Furukawa, T. A., Weisz, J. R., Li, X., Cuijpers, P., Coghill, D., Xiang, Y., Hetrick, S. E., Leucht, S., Qin, M., Barth, J., Ravindran, A. V., Yang, L., Curry, J., Fan, L., Silva, S. G., … Xie, P. (2020). Comparative efficacy and acceptability of antidepressants, psychotherapies, and their combination for acute treatment of children and adolescents with depressive disorder: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7(7), 581–601.