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Depressive symptoms amongst adolescent primary care attenders. Levels and associations.

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Great Ormond St Hospital for Children, London, UK.



Background High rates of depressive disorder have been documented amongst adolescents attending general practitioners (GPs) in urban areas. However, little is known about the associations of adolescent depression in primary care.


We completed a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of adolescents, their parents and general practitioners, following adolescent attendance at the surgery.


We found high levels of depressive symptoms to be present in adolescent attenders of a broad range of social backgrounds. Depressive symptoms were associated with the following demographic and contextual factors: older age, female gender and parental psychiatric symptoms. They were also associated with the presence of physical symptoms causing psychosocial impairment, with health risks (use of cannabis and exposure to drugs) and with use of services (both primary care and mental health services). Levels of depressive symptoms were similar in urban and suburban groups. However, associations of depressive symptoms with smoking, exposure to drugs, cannabis use and primary care attendance were demonstrated in the suburban group and not the urban group.


Adolescent GP attenders have high levels of depressive symptomatology. GP recognition and intervention should have the potential to impact on adolescent depression and on associated risks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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