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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1995 Nov;34(11):1525-35.

Continuity of psychopathology in a community sample of adolescents.

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  • 1Child/Adolescent Depression Program, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.



To examine the continuity between the primary (first) diagnosis and secondary (second) diagnosis of those adolescents who have more than one episode of psychiatric disorder. Data were examined to determine whether the second episode "breeds true" (i.e., remains within the same diagnostic category as the first) or involves a different disorder.


The sample consisted of 236 youngsters selected from the larger (n = 1,507) population of adolescents (aged 14 through 18 years) from the Oregon Adolescent Depression Project who had been assessed on two occasions, approximately 1 year apart.


Results support the continuity hypothesis for the categories of disorder studied (major depression, anxiety, disruptive, substance use), with the exception of dysthymia. Primary dysthymia did not result in the diagnosis of secondary dysthymia, because most adolescents who had dysthymia had not recovered within the time frame of the study and were chronic cases, often with secondary anxiety. Also presented are data on age of onset of disorder (lowest for anxiety and highest for substance use) and information on remission intervals between episodes (well time) (lowest for substance use and highest for anxiety).


The findings are interpreted as providing support for the "breed true" hypothesis, although clearly not all second episodes are identical with the first. While the psychosocial factors examined did not predict the nature of the second disorder, this clearly needs further study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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