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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Adolescent Depression

Depression has a significant impact on adolescent development and well being. Adolescent depression can adversely affect school and work performance, impair peer and family relationships, and exacerbate the severity of other health conditions such as asthma and obesity.121, 122, 123 Depressive episodes often persist, recur, or continue into adulthood.124 Youth who have had a Major Depressive Episode (MDE) in the past year are at greater risk for suicide and are more likely than other youth to initiate alcohol and other drug use, experience concurrent substance use disorders, and smoke daily.125, 126, 127

Indicator Health4: Percentage of youth ages 12–17 who experienced a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year by age and gender, 2004–2011
Percentage of youth ages 12–17 who experienced a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year by age and gender, 2004–2011

NOTE: Major Depressive Episode (MDE) is defined as a period of at least 2 weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities plus at least four additional symptoms of depression (such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and feelings of self-worth) as described in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

SOURCE: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

  • In 2011, about 8 percent of the population ages 12–17 had a Major Depressive Episode (MDE) during the past year, a lower rate than that reported in 2004 (9 percent).
  • In each year between 2004 and 2011, the prevalence of MDE among youth was more than twice as high among females (12 to 13 percent) as among males (4 to 5 percent).
  • The past-year prevalence of MDE in 2011 was lowest in youth ages 12–13 (4 percent), compared with youth ages 14–15 (9 percent) and youth ages 16–17 (12 percent).
  • In 2011, approximately 69 percent of youth with MDE (6 percent of the population ages 12–17) reported that the MDE caused severe problems in at least one major role domain (home, school/work, family relationships, social life).
  • The percentage of youth with MDE receiving treatment for depression, defined as seeing or talking to a medical doctor or other professional about the depressive episode and/or using prescription medication for depression in the past year, declined from 40 percent in 2004 to 38 percent in 2011.

table icon HEALTH4.A HTML Table, HEALTH4.B HTML Table, HEALTH4.C HTML Table

121 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. (2008). The NSDUH report: Major depressive episode among youths aged 12 to 17 in the United States: 2004 to 2006. Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k8/youthDepress/youthDepress.cfm.

122 Van Lieshout, R.J., and MacQueen, G. (2008). Psychological factors in asthma. Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology, 4(1), 12–28.

123 Goodman, E., and Whitaker, R.C. (2007). A prospective study of the role of depression in the development and persistence of adolescent obesity. Pediatrics, 110(3), 497–504.

124 Weissman, M.M., Wolk, S., Goldstein, R.B., Moreau, D., Adams, P., Greenwald, S., . . . Wickramaratne, P. (1999). Depressed adolescents grown up. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282, 1701–1713.

125 Shaffer, D., Gould, M.S., Fisher, P., Trautman, P., Moreau, D., Kleinman, M., and Flory, M. (1996). Psychiatric diagnosis in child and adolescent suicide. Archives of General Psychiatry, 53, 339–348. Retrieved from http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/53/4/339.

126 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. (2007). The NSDUH report: Depression and the initiation of alcohol and other drug use among youths aged 12 to 17. Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k7/newUsers/depression.cfm.

127 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental health findings. NSDUH Series H-45, HHS Publication No. (SAMA) 12-4725. Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2k11MH_FindingsandDetTables/2K11MHFR/NSDUHmhfr2011.htm.