This might be tough for parents who want to swoop in and fix their children’s every problem, but a study found that half of the teenagers who screened positive for depression got better in six weeks without treatment.

Two aspects of the teenagers’ conditions seemed to predict whether the depression would ease without treatment: the severity of the symptoms and whether the symptoms persisted for six weeks, the researchers, led by Dr. Laura Richardson of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, said in an article published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers looked at other factors, including substance abuse, family history and abuse, but “they did not predict which adolescents would stay depressed,” Richardson, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, said in a statement.

The issue is important because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended in 2009 screening adolescents for depression in primary care settings. The goal is to avoid unnecessary treatment for those with transient symptoms.

The researchers noted there’s a need to figure out which young people need treatment and which just need “watchful waiting” after their primary care provider identifies depression.

— Los Angeles Times