Depression among Adolescents in the United States: Results from the 2012 National Survey on Children's Health

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Introduction: Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States (U.S.). Annually, approximately 7% of adults and 3% of children were diagnosed with depression. The rates of depression are generally high among adults, however since past decade the depression among adolescents has been increasing progressively. According to the National Comorbidity Survey, about 11 % of adolescents annually reported to have a depressive disorder by age 18 years. Several studies have been conducted to understand depression in middle-aged and older-adults, while limited studies on adolescents. 2015 Appalachian Student Research Forum Page 65 The study aimed to estimate prevalence of depression among adolescents in the U.S. and identify key factors associated with it. Methods: Data (n=44,879) was obtained from the 2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). In the data Depression is defined as a mental disorder, marked by loss of interest or pleasure, sadness, feeling of low self-worth along with disturbed sleep or appetite. Based on existing literature, several selected adolescent characteristics and disease outcomes were included as potential risk factors of depression including age, gender, race, asthma, diabetes, learning disability and exposure to adverse family experiences. Descriptive statistics were reported using frequencies and proportions along with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Multiple logistic regression model was performed to assess relationship of risk factors with depression in adolescents adjusting for other confounders. Results: Overall 6.4% of adolescents aged 10-17 years reported either prior symptom or current diagnosis of depression. Depression rates were 6.5% and 6.3% among male and female adolescents, 9.6%, 11.8% and 68.8% among non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, respectively. For every one year increase in age, the relative odds of depression increased by 19% (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.17-1.21). Adolescents who reported physician diagnosis of asthma and diabetes were more likely to have depression (asthma - OR 2.22, 95%CI 2.05-2.42, diabetes- OR 3.23, 95%CI 2.45-4.25) than those who were not. In addition, those with learning disability were more likely to have depression (OR 5.56 95%CI 5.13 6.02) than those who were not. For increase in one adverse family experience, the risk of depression increased by 158.7% (OR 2.59 95% CI 2.46 2.72). Gender and race were not found to be not significantly associated with depression. Conclusion: The study illustrates that depression in adolescents is interplay between demographic characteristics, disease outcomes and personal/family experiences. Study findings help identify important etiological factors that must be considered during treatment and prognosis of depression among adolescents in the U.S.


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