Three Hidden Risks Linked to Adolescent Depression
Adolescent depression can already be difficult to spot without the three new hidden risks that have been added to the equation. A study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet has recently reported that adolescents who show low physical activity, high media use, and reduced sleep may form a more hidden-risk group of depression.
The study analyzed questionnaires that were given to over 12, 000 adolescents, aged 14 to 16, from eleven European countries.1 The questionnaires charted the different risk behaviors and their link to psychiatric symptoms.1
Researchers stated, “As many as 30 percent of the adolescent clustered in the ‘invisible’ group showed a high level of psychopathological symptoms.”1
The usual high-risk groups are usually easier to identify, as they exhibit behavioral problems and substance use; however, many are unaware that the adolescents who fall within the hidden-risk group are also at risk.1
Adolescents that were identified as the hidden-risk group were characterized by a combination of high media use, sedentary behavior, and reduced sleep—all habitual behaviors.1 These behaviors are not generally associated with mental health problems; however, they showed the same prevalence of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression.1 Over time, these behaviors cause a lifestyle that encourages depressive symptoms.1 Early identification and interventions are needed to preventing these hidden-risks from becoming more severe.1
Two other recent studies found a link between sleep duration and depression.1 Also, many studies on heavy media use has also shown that social media has been found to depress users a majority of the time, as they compare their daily lives to others.1
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that depressive disorders affect approximately 11 percent of American teens at some point, with three percent experiencing a seriously debilitating depressive disorder.1 Therefore, it is important to intervene as early as possible.1 Encouraging adolescents to remain physically active, stay socially connected without being dependent upon social media, develop healthy sleep habits, eat a balanced diet, and setting and achieving small daily goals are all ways of assuring their risk of depression lessens.1