Depression More Common Among Adolescents with Health Conditions

Thursday, May 4, 2017

New data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals higher rates of depression among adolescents with common health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and obesity

Major depressive episodes (MDEs) are more common among adolescents ages 12 to 17 with asthma or diabetes, than among adolescents without these conditions, according to a new report from SAMHSA. Additionally, adolescent girls who were overweight or obese were more likely to have experienced an MDE in the past year than their peers.

SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) combined 2005 to 2014 data show that 1 in 7 adolescents with diabetes had a MDE in the past year, compared to 1 in 11 adolescents without diabetes. MDE was more likely among adolescents with asthma compared to adolescents without asthma (11.4 vs. 8.8 percent). Adolescents with bronchitis or pneumonia also were more likely than other adolescents to have experienced MDE. Based on combined 2013 to 2015 NSDUH data, adolescent girls who were overweight or obese were more likely to have experienced an MDE (20.5 percent) than those who were a healthy weight (17.4 percent).

There has been a notable increase in overall rates of MDE among all adolescents. According to NSDUH data, MDE among adolescents increased from 8.8 percent in 2005 to 12.5 percent in 2015. Adolescents who had an MDE experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for a period of two weeks or longer in the past 12 months and had at least some additional symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, and lack of energy.

The good news is that SAMHSA has effective programs to address these issues. For example, SAMHSA’s Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families program, commonly called the Children's Mental Health Initiative, addresses the needs of adolescents with mental disorders. In addition, SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative promotes wellness for people with mental and/or substance use disorders with the goal of improving quality of life, health, and longevity.

The SAMHSA report is released in recognition of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day). Awareness Day 2017, “Partnering for Help and Hope,” focuses on the importance of integrating behavioral health and primary care for children, youth, and young adults with mental and/or substance use disorders. Access the complete SAMHSA report, one-page and “Spotlights” here.

SAMHSA Full Report: Comparison of Physical Health Conditions among Adolescents Aged 12 to 17 with and without Major Depressive Episode:–%20MH9.pdf


Bronchitis and Pneumonia Related To Major Depressive Episodes Among Adolescents:

1 in 7 Adolescents with Diabetes Experienced a Major Depressive Episode in the Past Year:

Past Year Major Depressive Episodes More Common Among Adolescents With Asthma:

1 in 5 female adolescents who were overweight and obese had a past year major depressive episode:

More than 1,100 communities and 160 national collaborating organizations and federal partners participate in community events, educational programs, health fairs, art exhibits, and social networking campaigns in observance of Awareness Day. Each year, an event in Washington, DC, complements these local activities. The 2017 event takes place tonight at 7 p.m., EDT, at The George Washington University School of Media & Public Affairs’ Jack Morton Auditorium.

For more information about Awareness Day or to view the live webcast of the event, visit

Follow the hashtag #HeroesofHope to join the conversation about Awareness Day 2017.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last Updated: 05/04/2017