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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002 Feb;41(2):199-205.

Epidemiology of depressive symptoms in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0456, USA.



To describe the range of depressive symptoms reported by adolescents in a nationally representative U.S. sample and to examine factors associated with persistent depressive symptoms.


Secondary analysis was done on National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (AddHealth) data from 13,568 adolescents who completed the initial survey in 1995 and follow-up 1 year later. Main outcomes of Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) scores were analyzed by chi2 comparisons and sample-weighted logistic regression.


Over 9% of adolescents reported moderate/severe depressive symptoms at baseline (CES-D > or = 24). Females, older adolescents, and ethnic minority youths were more likely to report depressive symptoms at baseline. Only 3% of adolescents with low initial CES-D scores (CES-D < 16) developed moderate/severe depressive symptoms at follow-up. Factors associated with persistent depressive symptoms at 1-year follow-up included: female gender, fair/poor general health, school suspension, weaker family relationships, and health care utilization. Other factors, including race and socioeconomics, did not predict persistent depressive symptoms.


Depressive symptoms are common in adolescents and have a course that is difficult to predict. Most adolescents with minimal symptoms of depression maintain their status and appear to be at low risk for depression; however, adolescents with moderate/severe depressive symptoms warrant long-term follow-up and reevaluation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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