Examining depression from childhood to adulthood

A recent analysis of data collected from individuals participating in the Oregon Adolescent Depression Project offers a new understanding of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) across four key developmental periods in a person’s life: childhood; adolescence; emerging adulthood and adulthood (through age 30), reports Science Daily.

Diagnostic assessments –interviews and questionnaires– were completed by the 816 participants during each of the four periods. From the resulting data, Paul Rohde, of the Oregon Research Institute, and colleagues examined the characteristics of MDD for each defined period. The researchers considered gender, comorbidity, duration, prevalence, recurrence and suicide. 

Their findings included:

  • More than half the sample (51%) had experienced an MDD episode by 30-years-old; of this group, 53 percent had faced at least one other episode of MDD. 
  • Experiencing an MDD episode during one developmental period was associated with a significantly increased risk of a recurrent episode in subsequent periods.
  • Episodes of MDD that occurred during childhood lasted significantly longer than those experienced in the remaining periods.
  • Roughly 19 percent of those participants who had a history of depression through age 30 had attempted suicide by the final developmental period.  
  • For all four periods, major depression was tied to anxiety and substance use.

The study, “Key Characteristics of Major Depressive Disorder Occurring in Childhood, Adolescence, Emerging Adulthood, and Adulthood,” was published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. 

Learn about Polaris Health Directions’ outcomes management systems for assessing and monitoring mental health: Polaris-MH for adult outpatient mental health treatment; Polaris-Medical for the primary care setting and Polaris-Youth. All systems are equipped to identify co-morbid disorders, and include screens for substance abuse.