Depressed Teens at Higher Risk of Mental Illness as Young Adults

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DepressionA study recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that individuals experiencing depression during their teenage years are likelier than their high-school peers to develop long-term mental illnesses and engage in substance abuse in their twenties.

The sample involved more than 1,000 young people, ages 16 and 17, who were initially measured in 1994. Every two years, researchers conducted follow-up surveys, which concluded in 2008. At baseline, researchers said that about 7 percent of the young people originally surveyed showed signs of depression.

According to the study, conducted by researchers using data from the National Population Health Survey of Canada, the depressed teens were nearly five times more likely to report experiencing depression in follow up surveys than their colleagues, a pattern that held consistent throughout the subjects’ adulthoods.

The subjects reporting depression as teenagers were also likelier to report additional distress and take antidepressants, researchers found. Furthermore, those who reported experiencing depression as teenagers were found to be almost twice as likely to abuse alcohol and were found to be three times likelier to be daily smokers in their twenties than other subjects.

“Our research shows that depressed adolescents are more likely to suffer from numerous problems,” said Dr. Ian Coleman, a researcher at the University of Ottawa’s Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, in an article by the Center for Advancing Health.

“These include ongoing difficulties with mental illness, alcohol abuse, poor physical health and inadequate social support networks.”