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Major Depressive Episode and Treatment among Adolescents: 2009

Depression affects millions of adolescents every year and has been shown to affect adolescents’ physical, emotional, and social development. Adolescents who suffer from depression are at increased risk for substance use, high-risk sexual behaviors, problems at school, problems with peer and family relationships, and suicide attempts. Increasing awareness of the signs of adolescent depression among parents, caregivers, teachers, and general practitioners may help with early identification of youths who are at risk for depression, and ensuring that effective treatment services for depression are easily accessible may help to increase service utilization.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provides up-to-date estimates of major depressive episode (MDE) and treatment for depression among adolescents. MDE is defined using the diagnostic criteria set forth in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which specifies a period of 2 weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-worth. Treatment for depression is defined as seeing or talking to a medical doctor or other professional about depression or using prescription medication in the past year to treat depression. This issue of The NSDUH Report, which focuses on past year MDE and treatment for depression among adolescents (i.e., youths aged 12 to 17), uses findings based on 2009 NSDUH data.

Read the report at www.samhsa.gov.