1 in 9 US Teens Experience Major Depression

Fran Lowry

July 07, 2016

Of US adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, 1 in 9 report having had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year, new research shows.

The findings come from a new report generated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The results are based on combined 2013 and 2014 data from the 2012-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

"Highlighting the prevalence of adolescent MDE at the state level may help state and local prevention specialists in their efforts to raise awareness of the signs of adolescent depression, to increase screening for adolescent depression, and to more widely disseminate information on the availability of treatment for adolescents with MDE," the report's authors write.

Among the 10 states with the highest rates of past-year MDE in adolescents, four were in the West (Oregon, Arizona, Utah, and Washington), three were in the Northeast (Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire), two were in the Midwest (Wisconsin and Indiana), and one was in the South (Virginia).

Of the 10 states with the lowest rates of past-year MDE among adolescents, four were in the South (Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and the District of Columbia), three were in the West (Alaska, New Mexico, and Hawaii), two were in the Midwest (North Dakota and South Dakota), and one was in the Northeast (Connecticut).

Oregon had the highest rate of adolescent MDE, at 14.6%, and the District of Columbia had the lowest, at 8.7%.

For the purposes of the survey, an MDE was defined as experiencing depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities for a period of 2 weeks or longer, as well having at least four other symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-worth.

The findings were based on combined 2013-2014 NSDUH data from 39,600 adolescent respondents. These data were compared with combined 2012-2013 data from 45,000 adolescent respondents to examine changes in MDE over time.

The overall rate of MDEs among adolescents rose from 9.9% in 2012-2013 to 11% in 2013-2014. Thirteen states experienced a statistically significant increase during this period, whereas 37 states and the District of Columbia showed no real change in the rate of past-year MDE among teens.

"Adolescence is a critical time in a person's development, and battling with depression can be devastating for teens unless they receive effective treatment," Paolo del Vecchio, MSW, director of SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services, Rockville, Maryland, said in a statement.

"Effective treatment is available, but parents, teachers, and all concerned members of the community must work to ensure that adolescents in need get help," he said.

The authors of the report and Paolo del Vecchio report no relevant financial relationships.

NSDUH. The CBHSQ Report. Published online July 7, 2016. Full text


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