Thursday, January 8, 2015

Better Screening, Treatment Access Needed for Teens With Major Depression

About 60% of teenagers with DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD) receive treatment, but only 35% were treated by a mental health professional, according to a nationally representative survey of 10,123 adolescents.

Lifetime prevalence of MDD was 11% among that sample, and 12-month prevalence was 7.5%, said Shelli Avenevoli, Ph.D., of the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Mental Health and colleagues in the January Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Age and gender influenced prevalence, they said. Severe MDD was more common among older adolescents, and girls had two to three times the risk of MDD and four times the risk of severe depression than boys. Almost 30% of those with MDD reported suicidality, and 10.8% said they had made a suicide attempt. Significant levels of impairment and comorbid psychiatric disorders were present as well.

"[However,] the majority of depressed adolescents did not receive treatment specifically for their depression or from the mental health sector for any emotional or behavioral problem," Avenevoli and colleagues found. "These findings underscore the ubiquitous nature of this disorder in youth, suggest that a significant portion of depressive disorders have their first onset in adolescence, and support the notion of routine and universal screening during adolescence.”

To read more about treatment of adolescent depression, see the Psychiatric News article “Teens With Depression Benefit From Collaborative Care Model.” Also see the report "Increase in Untreated Cases of Psychiatric Disorders During the Transition to Adulthood" published January 2 in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

(Image: Jochen Schoenfeld/


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