Study: Depression increasing among American teens, young adults

More and more of America’s adolescents and young adults are struggling with depression, especially young women, according to a study released earlier this week.

Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that the rate of adolescents who reported a recent episode of clinical depression increased by 37 percent between 2005 and 2014. Among girls, one in six reported a bout of clinical depression in the last year. In particular, the 12-month prevalence of a major depressive episode increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014 among adolescents, and from 8.8 percent to 9.6 percent among young adults. The study is based on data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health from 2005 to 2014, which included more than 172,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 and more than 178,000 adults ages 18 to 25.

“This shows us there are a growing number of untreated adolescents with depression and that we are making few inroads in getting mental health care to this population,” said study co-author Ramin Mojtabai, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a news release. “It is imperative that we find ways to reach these teenagers and help them manage their depression.”

Among its many findings, the study reported that adolescents who experience major depressive episodes were more likely to be girls than boys and more likely to be white than black. Young adults who reported 12-month major depressive episodes were more likely to be unemployed or part-time employed; widowed, divorced, separated or never married; and less likely to have a yearly income between $20,000 and $75,000. Also, compared to young adults who hadn’t experienced such depression, those who had were less likely to be male or black and more likely to have a substance use disorder.

For girls, in particular, prevalence of experiencing a major depressive episode increased from about 13 percent in 2004 to more than 17 percent in 2014, whereas prevalence among boys increased from 4.5 percent to 5.7 percent. Overall during the study period, the number of adolescents who experienced 12-month major depressive episodes increased by more than half a million young people.

But despite the increase in depression, the proportion of adolescents with 12-month major depressive episodes who received mental health care in the prior year did not significantly change during the study period. Though researchers did find a small increase among adolescents in visits to specialty mental health providers, in inpatient and day treatment use, and medication use.

Researchers noted that the study was adjusted to consider the impact of typical factors associated with depression, such as single-parent households, income or an increase in substance abuse. However, they found that such factors could not explain the increasing depression numbers. As for the greater susceptibility among girls, the authors hypothesized that girls may be facing greater exposures to risk factors such as cyberbullying.

“The growing number of depressed adolescents and young adults who do not receive any mental health treatment for their (major depressive episodes) calls for renewed outreach efforts, especially in school and college health and counseling services and pediatric practices where many of the untreated adolescents and young adults with depression may be detected and managed,” the study concluded.

Researchers estimate that depression cost the U.S. about $210 billion in 2010 in direct and indirect costs. The mental health condition is also a leading cause of disease and injury.

For a full copy of the depression study, visit Pediatrics.

Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for nearly 15 years.

12 Comments

  1. More and more of America’s adolescents and young adults are struggling with depression, especially young women, according to a study released earlier this week.
    Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that the rate of adolescents who reported a recent episode of clinical depression increased by 37 percent between 2005 and 2014. Among girls, one in six reported a bout of clinical depression in the last year. In particular, the 12-month prevalence of a major depressive episode increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014 among adolescents, and from 8.8 percent to 9.6 percent among young adults. The study is based on data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health from 2005 to 2014, which included more than 172,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 and more than 178,000 adults ages 18 to 25.
    “This shows us there are a growing number of untreated adolescents with depression and that we are making few inroads in getting mental health care to this population,” said study co-author Ramin Mojtabai, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a news release. “It is imperative that we find ways to reach these teenagers and help them manage their depression.”
    Among its many findings, the study reported that adolescents who experience major depressive episodes were more likely to be girls than boys and more likely to be white than black. Young adults who reported 12-month major depressive episodes were more likely to be unemployed or part-time employed; widowed, divorced, separated or never married; and less likely to have a yearly income between $20,000 and $75,000. Also, compared to young adults who hadn’t experienced such depression, those who had were less likely to be male or black and more likely to have a substance use disorder.
    For girls, in particular, prevalence of experiencing a major depressive episode increased from about 13 percent in 2004 to more than 17 percent in 2014, whereas prevalence among boys increased from 4.5 percent to 5.7 percent. Overall during the study period, the number of adolescents who experienced 12-month major depressive episodes increased by more than half a million young people.
    But despite the increase in depression, the proportion of adolescents with 12-month major depressive episodes who received mental health care in the prior year did not significantly change during the study period. Though researchers did find a small increase among adolescents in visits to specialty mental health providers, in inpatient and day treatment use, and medication use.
    Researchers noted that the study was adjusted to consider the impact of typical factors associated with depression, such as single-parent households, income or an increase in substance abuse. However, they found that such factors could not explain the increasing depression numbers. As for the greater susceptibility among girls, the authors hypothesized that girls may be facing greater exposures to risk factors such as cyberbullying.
    “The growing number of depressed adolescents and young adults who do not receive any mental health treatment for their (major depressive episodes) calls for renewed outreach efforts, especially in school and college health and counseling services and pediatric practices where many of the untreated adolescents and young adults with depression may be detected and managed,” the study concluded.
    Researchers estimate that depression cost the U.S. about $210 billion in 2010 in direct and indirect costs. The mental health condition is also a leading cause of disease and injury.
    For a full copy of the depression study, visit Pediatrics.
    Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for nearly 15 years.

    Related

  2. Witness the bitter and far-reaching fruits of contraception.

  3. “Witness the bitter and far-reaching fruits of contraception.”
    You are continuing with your list of amazingly stupid and fact free posts. I know you stated that the use of birth control hurts you, but linking your asinine idea that birth control is immoral and “wrong” in some mythological sense to a serious issue affecting millions of people is simply evil.
    Is there any level of despicable behavior to which you won’t stoop?

  4. Just checked the article twice and it said nothing about contraceptive use.
    SN, are you saying that *other* people using contraceptives causes young people to be depressed? You know that’s not how any of this works, right?

  5. To JustaTech #3:
    Kim’s article notes “Young adults who reported 12-month major depressive episodes were more likely to be unemployed or part-time employed; widowed, divorced, separated or never married…”
    I wonder how many of the depressed come from families of divorce or are children of single mothers?
    I wonder how many of the depressed are further destabilized mentally, emotionally, and physically in a society which
    – separates sex from lifelong fruitful marital love and which
    – instead glorifies an objectifying hook-up culture and which
    – degrades further into a pandemic of (“clean” and necessarily contraceptive) pornography and which
    – has seen a resurgence in sexually transmitted diseases?
    Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humane Vitae”, written in 1968, foresaw these and other ills resulting from wide-spread contraceptive use.
    Here are some excerpts from one of many articles on the subject:
    “… the use of contraceptives leads to a breakdown of marriage…
    … conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality…
    … men would no longer respect women but would treat them as a “mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion…
    significant rise in divorce and illegitimacy, both of which lead to other social ills like heightened rates of criminal behavior and increased high school drop out rates…
    … traditional women who wanted to either abstain from sex or at least receive a promise from their boyfriend that he would marry her in the case of pregnancy could no longer compete with “modern” women who embraced contraception…
    … premarital sex became the norm and women “felt free or obligated to have sex.” “Thus, many traditional women ended up having sex and having children out of wedlock, while many of the permissive women ended up having sex and contraception or aborting so as to avoid childbearing. This explains in large part why the contraceptive revolution was associated with an increase in both abortion and illegitimacy.”
    … the poor have been hit even harder by the negative consequences that came about through widespread use of contraceptives.”http://thecatholicwriter.com/catholicwriter/2006/09/26/social-science-confirms-harmful-effects-of-contraception/

  6. Anyone surprised that sn’s arguments are baseless and fact free, or that he relies on another bigot from 1968 to support his nonsense?
    Nobody is surprised?
    Didn’t think anyone would be.

  7. So, “See Not” is here again, sadistically spreading his bogus philosophy. Doe he know anything about psychology? Does he mention anything about hormones or biology? Does he realize that much depression is genetic? How about depression caused by simple frustration? How does he feel about the depression caused by his religion, both now, and in the last century? The Catholic Church supported the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930’s. That was pretty depressing. Especially if you were a Jew. Pope Pius XII had been threatened by Nazis as a young man, and never forgave them. No, instead, he insanely, vehemently fought them, while ignoring the murder of six million jews at the hands of Catholic and Lutheran Nazis among others.
    Isn’t it kind of curious that “See the Sadistic” is a supporter of President Elect Pussy Grabber? He is so in love with father figures that he will worship the strongest male authoritarian in any room, even if that father figure is at odds with most of the things his religion teaches. Go figure. And even if his father figure is flirting with a Russian dictator. This is like WWII all over again. When the Pope’s darling Adolf double crossed the Russians and went to war with them, then subsequently lost the war with them, and Russian troops raped and impregnated so many German girls and woman, Pope Pius demanded that those females bear the offspring of Russian brutality. Kuz souls.
    .
    So See the Sadistic blinds himself to evil over and over agaiin, presumably so he can make his way to his mythical father figure in the sky, whom he loves more than anything, more than any woman, more than anything else.
    Have a nice day See. Enjoy your life under future president Pussy Grabber/ Schicklgruber.

  8. Oops. Pope Pius wasn’t threatened by Nazis! He embraced them! My bad. Pope Pius XII had been threatened by COMMUNISTS as a young man, and never forgave them. Rather un-Christian of him I would say. Sorry about that error!

  9. Since the nazis fought against the Soviet union, the worst people ever (according to him ) the link between his church and the nazis is a plus for him.
    He views the Holocaust as an added bonus for his religion.

  10. This post was about the rise of depression among young people. Any thoughtful, scientific discussion of the problem was highjacked by a religious nut blaiming the problem on failure to follows the precepts of someone whom this religious nut believes to be his god’s chosen spiritual leader on Earth.
    Nothing the least bit unhinged there, eh?
    Problem solved. No thinking involved. Just shut up and follow the Pope. No discussion about NMR, PET, medications, diet, exercise, environment, counseling. Nope. None of that.
    Peace and Love

  11. “Just shut up and follow the Pope.”
    Well not this Pope: sn has explained several times why this Pope isn’t qualified for the job: he’s too soft on “the queers”, he’s too easy on all the women who want to get out of marriage due to abuse (“if you don’t want to be an abused wife be a better wife”) and he is too willing to accept scientific issues determined later than 1200.
    sn: “I’k like a chance to meet this pope and explain to him why his grasp of Catholic philosophy is wrong.”

  12. SN, it is fascinating how you assume that the only reason a young widow might be depressed is that she might have used birth control. And you also assume that “never married” are sleeping around and using birth control. What if they’re young missionaries? Or nuns?
    And never mind that unemployment is an obvious reason to be depressed, as is poverty.
    As for that pope claiming that using birth control would cause men to not respect women – ha! That’s enough to make the cat laugh. Any student of history can tell you about the treatment of women throughout the centuries. Here’s a little story: a group of knights on their way out of England to the crusades demanded hospitality at a convent. The abbess was forced to let them in. The knights then raped and kidnapped the nuns, taking them onto their ship bound to the Holy Land. But then a storm came up and all the nuns were thrown overboard. So yeah, “respect women”, BS.

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