Teen girls twice as likely to suffer depression than boys, research shows

Posted Thu 16 Jan 2014, 5:54pm AEDT

Girls are nearly twice as likely than boys to experience bouts of depression and anxiety in their teenage years, a study by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute has found.

Researchers monitored nearly 2,000 students from high schools in Victoria, between 1992 and 2008.

They were each tested eight times for mental disorders, between the ages of about 15 years and 29 years.

The report, published in The Lancet, found 54 per cent of girls suffered an episode of depression or anxiety during their teens.

For boys, that figure dipped below a third (29 per cent).

The study's lead author Professor George Patton, says it is still unclear why girls had more problems.

"It may be something to do with biology. There may be a predisposition of this kind in girls," he said.

"The usual causes of these problems are things going wrong in the lives of teenagers."

The good news

Professor Patten says the study confirms the high prevalence of mental health disorders for young people, but says there are also some encouraging findings.

"The good news is that many of these problems do resolve," he said.

Many episodes, especially when brief in duration, were limited to teenage years and did not carry on or recur in adulthood, researchers found.

Overall, almost half with a disorder in adolescence had no further issues into adulthood.

But Professor Patten says the outlook is, again, not as hopeful for girls.

"In about half of the cases in boys who had an episode of anxiety and depression - emotional problems - during the teens, it continued into their 20s," he said.

"For girls, the continuity rate was actually a bit higher. About two-thirds of girls who had problems of this kind continued into their twenties."

'Talk with your teenager'

Prof. Patten is urging parents to take their child seriously if they start reporting problems associated with depression and anxiety.

"Troubles with sleep, troubles with concentration, withdrawing from friends... those are the kinds of things to take very significantly if they're going on for more than a few days," he said.

He says parents need to maintain communication with their child.

"It's about creating opportunities to talk with your teenager, where you have time alone with them, whether that's going for a drive, going for a walk, throwing a basketball," he said.

Original Story can be found here

Related Story: Study finds depression linked to student 'belonging'

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