Depression Rates Up Among Adolescents, Particularly Females

The report authors propose cyberbullying and social media use as possible theories, but at this point these remain speculative.
The report authors propose cyberbullying and social media use as possible theories, but at this point these remain speculative.

HealthDay News — Depression is on the rise among American teens and young adults, with adolescent girls showing the greatest vulnerability, according to research published online Nov. 14 in Pediatrics.

Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, MPH, a professor in the department of mental health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined data collected between 2005 and 2014 by the US National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Included in the study were 172 495 American teens (aged 12 to 17) and 178 755 young adults (18 to 25).

Overall risk over the course of a single year rose from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% by 2014 among all teens, and from 8.8% to 9.6% among young adults. Teenage girls were found to be significantly more vulnerable to depression than teenage boys, the researchers said. Back in 2005, the risk of major depressive disorder for teenage boys was 4.5%, and 13.1% for teenage girls. By 2014, however, boys' risk of depression rose to 5.7%, but for girls it increased to 17.3%.

Mojtabai told HealthDay that the jury remains out as to why, though he and other researchers have theorized that girls may simply be exposed to more depression risk triggers than boys. For example, "there is some research indicating that cyberbullying may have increased more dramatically among girls than boys," Mojtabai said. In addition, "as compared with adolescent boys, adolescent girls also now use mobile phones with texting applications more frequently and intensively. And problematic mobile phone use among young people has been linked to depressed mood. These associations, however, remain speculative," he noted.

References

Mojtabai R, Olfson M, Han B. National trends in the prevalence and treatment of depression in adolescents and young girls. Pediatrics. 2016; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1878.

Glowinski AL, D'Amelio G. Depression is a deadly growing threat to our youth: time to rally. Pediatrics. 2016; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2869.

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