New National Survey Sheds Light on Prevalence of Depression Among U.S. Teens

New findings from a national survey point to high rates of major depressive disorder among adolescents, with prevalence increasing between the years of 13 to 18 years of age. The study also found that, compared to their male counterparts, females had two to three times higher rates of depression.

The researchers used data from the National Comorbidity Survey to evaluate symptoms of mild to severe MDD among 10,123 teens. Lifetime rates were 11 percent, while 7.5 percent had been depressed in the past year. Most adolescents with MDD were also experiencing other mental conditions.

In addition, the study revealed that only a minority of those with MDD received treatment specific to their disorder (about 34 percent) or from the mental health sector (35 percent).

In a press release announcing the study, lead author Dr. Shelli Avenevoli said:

One of the major concerns raised by these findings was the substantial proportion of those with severe major depression who reported a history of suicide attempts, yet many had not received care in either the medical or mental health sectors.

The study appeared in this month’s print version of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.