Scientists from the United States, Sweden and Switzerland analyzed data from a 22-year longitudinal study of the Great Smoky Mountains assessing the mental health status of more than 1,400 children in North Carolina. Beginning in 1993, participants from 9 to 16 years old were interviewed, and observations of them continued into adulthood as well.
It turned out that every twelfth child suffers from depression, and it is diagnosed more often in girls than in boys. This condition is closely related to a wide range of indicators of future well-being: children who suffer from this common mental disorder are more likely to have health problems, family life and law enforcement, and they are less likely to achieve significant career success.
It is noteworthy that a special risk group includes children who were first diagnosed with depression in adolescence and lasted for several years.
“This was a rather unexpected finding, given the perception that earlier onset of depression may be associated with worse outcomes in the future,” the study authors noted.
Another finding was that children with depression who received skilled care were less likely to have mental and physical health problems in the future, but they were not spared other problems. In particular, this group of children has a high level of psychoactive substance use in adulthood. Scientists have suggested that medical support for these children cannot be a panacea in and of itself.
“Depression is a common childhood problem that, unfortunately, often goes unnoticed by adults, including parents, teachers and pediatricians. In the real world, most children with depression never get any treatment at all and have to cope with the problem on their own, ”said William Copeland, lead author of the study and professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont.