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Am J Public Health. 1983 Nov;73(11):1281-7.

Prevalence of self-reported depressive symptoms in young adolescents.


To investigate the significance and measurement of depressive symptoms in young adolescents, 624 junior high school students were asked to complete the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) during home interviews. In 384 usable symptom scales, item-scale correlations (most were above .50), inter-item correlations, coefficient alpha (.85), and patterns of reported symptoms were reasonable. Persistent symptoms were reported more often by Blacks, especially Black males. Prevalence of persistent symptoms in Whites was quite close to reported figures for adults, ranging from 1 per cent to 15 per cent in adolescent males and 2 per cent to 13 per cent in adolescent females. Adolescents reported persistent vegetative symptoms less often and psychosocial symptoms more often. Reports of symptoms without regard to duration were much more frequent in the adolescents, ranging from 18 per cent to 76 per cent in White males, 34 per cent to 76 per cent in White and Black females, and 41 per cent to 85 per cent in Black males. The results support the feasibility of using a self-report symptom scale to measure depressive symptoms in young adolescents. Transient symptoms reported by adolescents probably reflect their stage of development, but persistent symptoms are likely to have social psychiatric importance.

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