Depression: For Teens, Not Just Growing Pains
With mood swings, feelings of isolation,
the stress of school, and the struggle
to carve out an identity, teenagers
and their families may ignore signs
of depression. “Growing pains” are
an accepted part of the teenage years.
However, adolescents may experience
feelings that go beyond moodiness.
Many teens between the ages of 12 and
17 may suffer from a major depressive
episode (MDE), which can prevent them
from participating in normal activities.
to a recent report based on combined
data from SAMHSA’s
2004 to 2006 National Survey on Drug
Use and Health (NSDUH), MDEs are more
frequent than previously thought.
The report, Major
Depressive Episode among Youths Aged
12 to 17 in the United States: 2004
to 2006, indicates that
an annual average of 8.5 percent of
youth age 12 to 17 (an estimated 2.1
million teens) experienced at least
one MDE in the past year. Female adolescents
were more than twice as likely to be
affected as male adolescents (12.7
versus 4.6 percent).
Number of Days Depression Hinders Normal Activity
click to enlarge image
SAMHSA Office of Applied Studies. Major
Depressive Episode among Youths Aged 12
to 17 in the United States: 2004 to 2006. Figure 3. Mean
Number of Days Unable to Carry Out Normal
Activities Due to Depression among Youths
Aged 12 to 17 Who Experienced a Past Year
Major Depressive Episode (MDE), by Overall
Severity of Role Impairment: 2004-2006. May
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Combined 2004 to 2006 data show that
rates of past-year MDE among youth
age 12 to 17 generally increased with
Among youth age 12 to 17 with a past-year
MDE, 48.3 percent reported severe impairment
and 21.0 percent reported very severe
impairment in at least one of four
role domains (i.e., home, school/work,
family relationships, or social life).
Adolescents affected by past-year MDE
unable to carry out normal activities
for a range of 11.7 days to 58.4 days,
depending on the severity of the impairment.
Many survey respondents had experienced
MDE before. Of those who reported at
least one MDE over the past year, 91.7
percent reported more than one period
in their lifetime during which they
were feeling sadness or discouragement
accompanied by other problems for 2
weeks or longer.
To download the free report, visit
SAMHSA’s Web site at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k8/youthDepress/
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