Depressed Adolescents

DepressedThe most common psychiatric diagnoses to emerge during adolescence are depressive disorders.[1] These disorders have a profound effect on developmental tasks, including educational achievement and social functioning.1 Adolescent depression is also known to affect health outcomes during young adulthood; however, few studies have tracked the outcomes into this stage.1 Glenn A. Melvin, Ph.D. and colleagues recently completed and published a study that looked into the longer-term clinical and psychosocial outcomes of depressive disorders in early adulthood.1

Melvin and colleagues assessed 111 individuals, aged 17 to 24, who had received a diagnosis of a depressive disorder during their adolescence.1 The participants were assessed an average of 5.7 years after onset and were interviewed using a structured clinical interview.1 Participants also completed several self-report measures.1 All participants were formerly offered psychosocial and/or antidepressant medicine treatment.1

Approximately 93 percent of participants experienced full remission of their initial depressive disorder; however, one or more recurrences of unipolar depressive disorder occurred in 52.4 percent, approximately after 2.9 years.1 The severity of the mental illness was reflected in the high rate of suicide attempts during the follow-up period.1

A diagnosis of a non-mood disorder during the follow-up period was more common (79 percent) than a diagnosis of a depressive disorder.1 In fact, anxiety disorders were the most common diagnosis at 50.5 percent.1 The rates of alcohol use disorder (28.7 percent) and eating disorder (14.9 percent) were notable, as well.1

At the time of the follow-up assessment, many were found to have difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning.1 Only 58 percent completed high school; however, 77 percent had pursued further studies or vocational training.1 Periods of unemployment were common, and additional treatment for mental health problems were sought by 71 percent.1 More than half were treated with an antidepressant medicine, and 13 percent received an inpatient admission.1

According to Melvin, the high rate of recurrence of depressive symptoms, emergence of non-depressive disorders, and ongoing psychosocial challenges point to the need for more longer-term studies on the management of adolescents with depressive disorders.1 Detecting adolescents who may be at risk for relapse and recurrence is important, as is more effective treatment strategies that reduce the risk of recurrence.1

[1] Melvin GA, Dudley AL, Gordon MS, et al. What happens to depressed adolescents? A follow-up study into early adulthood. J Affect Disord. 2013;151:298-305. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/child-adolescent-psychiatry/what-happens-depressed-adolescents#sthash.vQXCyYPX.dpuf


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