Many teenagers reporting symptoms of depression

4:00pm Wednesday 20th September 2017

content supplied by NHS Choices

What were the basic results?

Average scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (0 to 10) completed by parents were low overall (a lower score indicating lesser problems):

The proportion of children reported to have emotional problems by their parents increased with age:

The proportion of children reported to have behaviour problems varied with age:

According to the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire completed by 14-year-old children:

Ethnicity and household income results indicate that children from all backgrounds and socioeconomic status can suffer from symptoms of depression:

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that "children's perspectives about their mental health may be different from their parents". They say this "highlights the importance of obtaining young people's own perspective of their mental ill-health, alongside other perspectives".

Conclusion

This large cohort study highlights high levels of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents.

It is however important to note that these are symptoms - we don't know how many of the children would be diagnosed with depression.

When parents complete the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, it is estimated that it will accurately identify 75% of children with depression and 73% of children without depression. But it is less accurate when children complete it. Recent research suggests that it can identify 60% of children with depression and 61% of children without depression.

Despite these limitations, the fact that so many children report symptoms is of concern. Various experts in the media have suggested reasons, ranging from greater awareness of mental health issues and therefore increased reporting, to greater pressure from social media. Further research is needed to identify the causes.

It is important to seek help early for children with emotional problems and your GP is the best place to start. You can also contact the charity Young Minds that offers information and help to both young people and their parents or carers.

Summary

"One in four British girls hit by depression at 14 as experts blame increase in cyber bullying and academic pressure," says the Sun after a large study found 24% of 14 year-old girls in the UK report symptoms of depression.

Links to Headlines

Quarter of 14-year-old girls 'have signs of depression' BBC News, September 20 2017

How a quarter of girls are hit by depression: Shocking figures show teenagers are struggling to cope with school, stress and pressures of social media Mail Online, September 20 2017

Teenage Blues One in four British girls hit by depression at 14 as experts blame increase in cyber bullying and academic pressure The Sun, September 20 2017

One in four teenage girls are depressed, by their own accounts The Daily Telegraph, September 20 2017

One in four girls have depression by the time they hit 14, study reveals The Guardian, September 20 2017

A quarter of all 14-year-old girls are depressed, research shows The Independent, September 20 2017

Quarter of girls are depressed at 14 in mental health crisis The Times, September 20 2017

Links to Science

Patalay P, Fitzsimons E. Mental ill-health among children of the new century (PDF, 554kb) Briefing paper from Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL Institute of Education. Published online September 20 2017.

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