A disturbing new study from Columbia University and the City University of New York highlights just how much parents have lost a grip on their teenager’s mental health. Researchers surveyed more than 600,000 people and found that between 2005-2015, the rate of depression increased for all Americans, especially adolescents:
According to the results, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, the number of adolescents diagnosed with clinical depression far outpaced any other age group. While the overall rate of depression in the U.S. rose from 6.6 to 7.3 percent in those 10 years, depression among children age 12 to 17 jumped from 8.7 to 12.7 percent.
The risk of significant disability, morbidity, and mortality (especially from suicide) is high among people diagnosed with major depression. Too often, however, depression goes undiagnosed, especially in groups with less access to health care services and mental health professionals. That is unfortunate especially because depression, the researchers say, is highly treatable:
The increase in rates of depression was most rapid among the youngest and oldest age groups, whites, the lowest income and highest income groups, and those with the highest education levels. These results are in line with recent findings on increases in drug use, deaths due to drug overdose, and suicide.
“Depression is most common among those with least access to any health care, including mental health professionals. This includes young people and those with lower levels of income and education,” noted Goodwin. “Despite this trend, recent data suggest that treatment for depression has not increased, and a growing number of Americans, especially socioeconomically vulnerable individuals and young persons, are suffering from untreated depression. Depression that goes untreated is the strongest risk factor for suicide behavior and recent studies show that suicide attempts have increased in recent years, especially among young women.”
It’s tough to be an “iGen” teenager these days:
The researchers reportedly noted that teens are at high risk for depression due to their generation’s increasing presence on social media. “Adolescents are increasingly exposed to risk factors derived from the use of new technologies, such as cyber-bullying and problematic social media use,” researchers said…
The researchers added that cases of depression that go untreated can lead to dangerous behavior like suicide. According to the CDC, the suicide rate among teen boys, age 15 to 19, jumped by 31 percent during the life of Columbia and CUNY’s study. Among teen girls, the CDC reports that the suicide rate doubled and was at the highest rate since the organization began tracking suicides in 1975.
The goal of suicide prevention is “simple,” according to the CDC:
Reduce factors that increase risk (i.e. risk factors) and increase factors that promote resilience (i.e. protective factors). Ideally, prevention addresses all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies are needed to promote awareness of suicide and encourage a commitment to social change.
Read more about teen depression on The PediaBlog here.