Depression rates soar among adolescents

Depression rates soar among adolescents

(District of Columbia) More adolescents are suffering major depressive episodes that correlate with to higher rates of substance abuse, according to the most recent federal data.

In an annual report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, , almost 13 percent of children aged 12 to 17 experienced extended bouts of symptoms aligned with clinical depression that contributed to behavior problems in school.

Students found to have experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2015 were also found to be twice as likely to use illicit drugs as their peers. More than 31 percent of those who experienced depression used drugs such as marijuana, heroin, stimulants, tranquilizers and methamphetamine compared to about 15 percent of adolescents who reported no major depressive episode.

Symptoms of depression include trouble with concentration and memory; restlessness or lack of energy; trouble sleeping or exhaustion; and in some cases, thoughts of or attempts to commit suicide or self-harm. Studies have linked these symptoms with chronic absenteeism, low achievement, disruptive behavior and higher dropout rates.

In an effort to combat those effects, schools across the country have begun working to hire additional school counselors and social workers–though many districts still do not have the funding to provide mental health services. And, according to a 2016 National Public Radio investigation, many schools that do have professionals on-site have too few counselors to work with the many children they’re responsible for keeping watch of.

Yet, despite many districts’ struggles to find funding to provide mental health services in schools, 3.2 million kids received mental health services related directly to problems with emotions or behaviors in school settings in 2015, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The annual Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report included a sample size of 67,500 individuals–25 percent of whom were aged 12 to 17–and employed a stratified multistage area probability analysis representative of both the nation as a whole, as well as of each state individually.

The reliability of the results was calculated at 95 percent.

The process included face-to-face household surveys conducted in both a screening phase and an interview phase. The determination of a mental disorder was based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition as well as the Sheehan Disability Scale to measure the impact of a disorder on a child's life at home and school, and in their interactions with friends and family.

According to the study, for almost 9 percent of adolescents who suffered at least one major depressive episode in 2015, the depression caused severe problems with their ability to do well at work or school, get along with their family, do chores at home, or have a social life.

Additionally, children who experienced a major depressive episode were at least twice as likely as their peers who had not experienced depression to abuse cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, sedatives, stimulants, tranquilizers, and inhalants.

A separate analysis of the results by ProjectKnow–a site that seeks to inform parents and family members of those struggling with addiction of available treatment options–found that girls were far more likely than boys to have dealt with a major depressive episode. Girls aged 15 were at an especially high risk at nearly 27 percent–an increase of more than 6 percentage points that the previous year.