Common Disorders in Adolescence That Persist Into Adulthood

disordersMore than half of the common mental health disorders faced by many during adolescence resolve themselves without effect; however, others persist into adulthood.[1]

Dr. George C. Patton from the University of Melbourne in Australia said, “Treat emotional problems in teenagers seriously. Many recovery, but for [some] it is the beginning of an ongoing mental disorder. What happens for a young person around this first episode is likely to make a big difference as to which path the problem takes.”1

Patton and colleagues conducted a 14-year study that focused on the mental health of individuals from the mid-teenaged years to the late 20s, investigating how often common mental health disorders persist from adolescence into adulthood, as well as any characteristics that might predict it.1

The study’s participants were evaluated with the revised Clinical Interview Schedule, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, or the General Health Questionnaire.1 It was found that 29 percent of males and 54 percent of females had experienced an episode of prominent depressive and anxiety symptoms at least one time during adolescence.1 Among those, 55 percent of men and 70 percent of women had their disorder persist into young adulthood.1

Individuals that experienced two or more episodes of a mental disorder in adolescence were three times as likely to have the disorder persist into adulthood, compared with individuals who experienced a single episode.1 Also, female participants showed higher risks for ongoing disorders compared with male participants.1 Parental separation or divorce also predicted adolescent disorders persisting into young adulthood.1 However, the levels of persistent mental health disorders were lower during the transition from young adulthood to adulthood compared with the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.1

The researchers said, “Given the extent of social influences on neural systems implicated in adolescent emotional development, the resolution of many disorders by the late 20s gives grounds for optimism about the scope for prevention of recurrence. Early clinical interventions that shorten the duration of episodes have the potential to reduce the later life disease burden from these disorders.”1

It is possible that more responsibility, such as obtaining their own home, marriage, parenthood, and employment has a positive effect on the mental health of those who suffer these persistent disorders.1

Future research should focus on treatment options that help to shorten, or heal, these disorders that occur in adolescence, in order to decrease the risk of the disorder persisting into young adulthood and beyond.1

Dr. Olga Eyre from Cardiff University School of Medicine in the UK wrote a commentary that accompanied the study’s report. Eyre said, “In short, it is not possible to draw definite conclusions about what is likely to be most successful in preventing the recurrence of adolescent mental disorders in adulthood. More work is required on identifying those at greatest risk of recurrence, then testing existing early intervention/prevention programs, especially their long-term benefits.”1

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