Teenage depression can lead to alcohol abuse, mental illness in twenties

Depressed teens are more likely to come into adulthood with an array of serious problems when compared to their non-depressed peers, according to a new study from the Center for Advancing Health. Using data from Canada’s National Population Health Survey, the researchers found that depressed teens were nearly five times more likely to still be depressed during the follow-up period.

These teens were also nearly two times more likely to be drinking heavily and three times more likely to have a daily smoking habit in their twenties. They also noted a link between teenage depression and migraine headaches, low levels of social support and a low self-rating of health.

Interestingly, the researchers did not find evidence that teenage depression significantly impacted employment status, income, marital status or educational attainment. However, they noted that these issues may emerge in the participants’ thirties.

In a press release from the CFAH’s Health Behavior News Service, Dr. Deborah Amdur, a Cornell University-trained psychiatrist, said:

“it’s an important article in that it highlights certain areas where interventions might be helpful to a depressed adolescent.”

The survey included more than 1,000 16- or 17-year-olds who completed a baseline assessment in 1994, and subsequent assessments every two years until the participants reached the ages of 26 or 27. The findings appear in the Journal of Adolescent Health.