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Dev Psychol. 2001 Sep;37(5):608-19.

Relation of early menarche to depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and comorbid psychopathology among adolescent girls.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 78712, USA.


This prospective study tested whether early menarche partially accounts for the increases in depression, eating pathology, substance abuse, and comorbid psychopathology that occur among adolescent girls, with structured interview data from a community sample (N = 496). Early menarche (prior to 11.6 years) was associated with elevated depression, substance abuse, and "any" disorder but did not confer increased risk for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. Although there was significant comorbidity across all three classes of pathology, early menarche was associated only with comorbid depression and substance abuse. Results provide partial support for the assertion that early menarche is a general risk factor for psychopathology among adolescent girls but suggest that this risk may not apply to certain disorders and that the effects are modest in size.

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