Forest Laboratories

Providing primary care physicians with routine screening methods for depression in adolescents increased the chances for treatment.

Synopsis: In response to the rising rate of teenage depression, Spector & Associates and Forest Laboratories collaborated to create an exclusively digital campaign that would build brand awareness of the company’s antidepressant drugs in front of primary care physician audiences.


The number of teens diagnosed with depression has risen dramatically in the past decade. Despite this, fewer and fewer of them — less than 30 percent of all those suffering — ever get diagnosed by their primary care physicians (PCPs).

Research has shown that if adolescent depression is not treated when it first appears, the likelihood is high for recurrences later in life. But detecting teen depression is a challenge, especially to time-pressed PCPs who are untrained to diagnose the illness. Fewer than 30 percent of adolescents who suffer from depression ever get diagnosed by their PCPs. Quite often, the symptoms of teen depression — indolence, moodiness, and malaise — are misread as “just” typical teen behavior.

When the FDA approved Lexapro as a first line treatment for teen depression in 2009, we knew it was critical to get word out to the PCPs in an objective and educational manner. We embarked on a campaign to demonstrate why depression screening was so crucial. Doing so would also help position Forest as an advocate for improved adolescent health and well-being.

We recognized that the most credible sources for advice should come not from the company, but from other doctors. We selected two of the country’s most respected adolescent psychiatrists, known for their landmark research into the causes, diagnoses and treatment of teen depression. The doctors were interviewed on camera, and we created video clips in a variety of subject areas, from screening methods to treatment options, to be posted on websites most frequented by PCPs. Having easy and ready access to this information would serve to alert PCPs to the risks of the illness and encourage many more of them to add depression screening to their routine exams.

Although depression may continue to rise in the adolescent population, more teens are likely to get treated thanks to heightened awareness among general practitioners.