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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016

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.75, 76 Major depressive episodes (MDE) often persist, recur, or continue into adulthood.77, 78 Youth with MDE are at greater risk for suicide and are more likely to initiate alcohol and other drug use compared with youth without MDE.79, 80 The majority of youth with MDE do not receive depression care.77, 78 Moreover, racial/ethnic minority youth with MDE are less likely to receive depression care compared with their White counterparts.77, 78

Figure 28: Percentage of youth ages 12–17 who had at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year by race and Hispanic origin, 2004–2014
Percentage of youth ages 12–17 who had at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year by race and Hispanic origin, 2004–2014

NOTE: MDE is defined as a period of at least two 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 fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). The 1997 Office of Management and Budget standards were used to collect race and ethnicity data. Persons could select one or more of five racial groups: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or Asian. Respondents could choose more than one race. Those reporting more than one race were classified as "Two or more races." Data on Hispanic origin are collected separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

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

  • In 2014, about 11 percent of youth ages 12–17 had a major depressive episode (MDE) during the past year, a higher prevalence than that reported in 2004 (9 percent). The prevalence of MDE in the past year among White, non-Hispanic youth in 2014 (12 percent) was higher than among Black, non-Hispanic youth (9 percent) and among American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic youth (7 percent).
  • However, in 2014, the prevalence of MDE in the past year among White, non-Hispanic youth (12 percent) was similar to that among non-Hispanic youth of two or more races (13 percent), among Hispanic youth (12 percent), and among Asian, non-Hispanic youth (10 percent).
  • Among White, non-Hispanic youth as well as among Hispanic youth, the prevalence of MDE in the past year increased from 9 percent in 2004 to 12 percent in 2014. However, the prevalence of MDE in the past year in 2004 did not differ from that in 2014 among the other youth by race and ethnicity.

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

76 Goodman, E., & 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.

77 Cummings, J.R., & Druss, B.G. (2011). Racial/ethnic differences in mental health service use among adolescents with major depression. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50(2), 160–170.

78 Cummings, J.R., Case, B.G., Ji, X., Chae, D.H., & Druss, B.G. (2014). Racial/ethnic differences in perceived reasons for mental health treatment in U.S. adolescents with major depression. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 53(9), 980–990.

79 Nock, M.K., Green, J.G., Hwang, I., McLaughlin, K.A., Sampson, N.A., Zaslavsky, A.M., & Kessler, R.C. (2013). Prevalence, correlates, and treatment of lifetime suicidal behavior among adolescents. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(3), 300–310.

80 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-49, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4887. Rockville, MD