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Prevalence of depression and other psychiatric disorders among incarcerated youths.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



To determine the prevalence of selected psychiatric disorders among incarcerated youths, compare prevalence rates by sex and ethnicity, assess comorbidity, and determine previous diagnosis.


From July-December 2000, a total of 1,024 incarcerated adolescents completed self-administered questionnaires that included the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ), linked to DSM-IV, that assesses depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and somatoform, panic, and anxiety disorders.


From the BDI, 261/1,024 (25%) had moderate and 223/1,024 (22%) severe depression. From the PHQ, 100/1,024 (9.77%) had major depressive disorder, 420 (41%) drug abuse, 275 (27%) alcohol abuse, and 297 (29%) one of the other disorders. In comparisons by sex and ethnic group, noteworthy findings included no differences between the sexes for moderate and severe depression from the BDI or for major depressive disorder from the PHQ; less drug and alcohol abuse in African-American males and females; and more anxiety disorder in white males and in females. Sixty percent had one or more psychiatric disorder: comorbidity was particularly common between both depression and anxiety and drug and alcohol abuse. Of depressed youths, 20% had been previously diagnosed and treated, as had approximately 10% with other disorders.


Incarcerated youths had a high prevalence of psychiatric disorders, usually undiagnosed, and comorbidity was common.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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