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Study Finds Depression On Rise In Adolescents But Particularly Among Teen Girls

11/14/2016
Major depression is one of the deadliest diseases among adolescents and is associated with the rise in self-injury among teenagers. A study, “National Trends in the Prevalence and Treatment of Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults,” published in the December 2016 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 14), found that major depression is increasing in young people, particularly among teenagers and girls. Researchers looked at data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health for years 2005-2014 for teenagers, ages 12-17, and young adults, ages 18-25, and found that the 12-month prevalence of major depressive episodes increased in adolescents from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014 (a 37 percent increase) and from 8.8 percent to 9.6 percent among young adults. The study found that the increase in depression was somewhat more prominent among adolescent girls, which aligns with past studies that show larger increases in depressive symptoms among girls than boys in recent years. Researchers state the gender difference may be attributable to greater exposure to depressive risk factors among girls, including mobile phones with texting applications due to the linkage of problematic phone use and depressive mood. Authors conclude the growing number of depressed adolescents and young people who do not receive any mental health treatment for their symptoms call for renewed outreach efforts, particularly on college campuses, pediatric practices and in high schools to increase detection and management of this disease. Editor’s Note: A related commentary, “Time to Rally Around Youth Depression,” will also be published in this issue.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.



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