Risk Factors Associated with Teen Depression

A study conducted in the United Kingdom suggests that teens whose mothers were depressed during pregnancy were more likely to be depressed themselves, especially during late adolescence.  The research team followed 4500 parents and their children for a number of years; teens whose moms depressed and less educated were even at a greater risk for depression.

Depression is a big deal when it comes to teens; suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers, following accidents and homicides.  Additionally for every completed suicide there are 25 attempts.  The researchers of the current study which is published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry emphasize the importance  paying attention to teens who are at a greater risk for depression.

Other studies have reported on other various risk factors parents, medical professionals and educators should be aware of:

  • A 2010 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry reported on the link between electronic use and depression in teens.  For every additional hour a child watches television, the risk of depression increases 8%.  Every added hour of overall media usage increases risk by 5%
  • Research published in September 2013 by the journal Pediatrics shows that adopted children are at a greater risk for suicide.  The team studied 1200 Minnesota teens and found that adopted teen girls and boys respectively were 8% and 5% more likely to attempt suicide than children raised by their biological parents
  • Harvard researchers discovered that 1 out of 8 teenagers think about suicide (12%) while 1 in 20 (4%) will actually attempt it
  • A 2013 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported on the phenomenon experts call “suicide contagion;” they discovered that students are more likely to attempt suicide if one of their classmates has done so, regardless of whether or not they knew the student personally
  • A study published in September 2009 by the British Journal of Psychiatry followed a group of teens from as early as the 1980s until 2008.  All 700 of the students were diagnosed with mild depression; at the conclusion of research the team discovered that those who experience mild depression in adolescence are at a greater risk for developing major depression, eating disorders and anxiety disorders as adults

Determining whether or not a teen is depressed can be difficult because they are inherently moody at times, but according to an article published by Dr. Allan Schwartz PH.D, action is warranted if a teenager displays the following symptoms for more than two weeks:

  • Poor school performance (if this is a change)
  • Withdrawal from friends, social and athletic events
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Anger and Rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Complaints about failing to achieve their ideals
  • Poor self-esteem or guilt
  • Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  • Restlessness/agitation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse (including alcohol)
  • Problems with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions



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