A new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders has suggested that depression screening and treatment should start at a younger age.
The results of the study involving a sample of 275 people with recurrent depression stated that “half of adults who experience clinical depression had their first episode start in adolescence,” according to a press release from Bangor University, which is one of the universities that conducted the research. Adolescents ranging from 13 to 15 years old on average could be having their first depressive episodes at this young age, according to the study.
Researchers find that once you have depression at least once in your life, there is a 50 percent chance that you could suffer from depression again later in life, according to the press release.
However, once you have depression more than twice in your life, the likelihood of becoming depressed again becomes even higher. That is why researchers consider the study results important, because if depression generally starts at such an early age instead of in middle age, then prevention efforts should start early.
According to the press release, talk therapy like cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy could be effective treatments for recurrent depression that starts in adolescence.
Chip Coffey, a licensed professional counselor and director of outpatient services at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center in Phoenix, said in an email that the results support what many mental health professionals have already noticed.
“We continue to see a pattern of familial linkage with mental health issues, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder,” Coffey said. “If we accept that there is a familial linkage, then it would be extremely unlikely that the first episode of depression would be suppressed until adulthood.”
Besides a genetic factor, he said adolescence can be full of changes that contribute to mental health issues.
“There are so many changes that occur to us in our teen years, from puberty to social groupings, school and beginning work – all of these are stressors,” Coffey said.