Depressed teenagers are more likely to battle mental illness and drinking problems during their twenties, according to a new study.
“Our research shows that depressed adolescents are more likely to suffer from numerous problems over the first ten years of adulthood. These include ongoing difficulties with mental illness, alcohol abuse, poor physical health, and inadequate social support networks,” said senior author Ian Colman, Ph.D., of the department of epidemiology and community medicine at the University of Ottawa.
Although the study did not show diminished success in the realms of work or marriage for the participants in their twenties, the authors pointed out that such problems might well arise during the subjects’ thirties, especially since marriage and career accomplishments are often postponed until that decade.
The researchers based their findings on data from Canada’s National Population Health Survey. Their sample included 1,027 adolescents aged 16 to 17, of whom 71 (or 7 percent) were depressed at the time baseline measurements were done in 1994. Further surveys were conducted with the youths every two years, through 2008.
The researchers found that depressed adolescents had 4.9 times the odds of experiencing depression during the follow-up period and were more likely to experience some form of psychological distress and to be taking antidepressants. Depressed teens had 1.8 times the odds of abusing alcohol and 2.9 times the odds of smoking daily during their twenties compared to adolescents who weren’t depressed. Also, adolescent depression was strongly predictive of migraine headaches and low self-rated health as a young adult.
The study has been published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.