March 1986

Adult Sequelae of Adolescent Depressive Symptoms

Author Affiliations

From the School of Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(3):255-262. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800030073007

• We examined sequelae of depressive mood, experienced at ages 15 to 16 years, nine years later at ages 24 to 25 years in subjects formerly enrolled in New York State public high schools. Feelings of dysphoria in adolescence predict most strongly a similar experience in adulthood. Such feelings also predict psychiatric hospitalization for women but not for men, at least up to the period we investigated. In addition, adolescent depression is associated with heavy cigarette smoking, increased use of minor prescription tranquilizers (among women), more deviant activities and accidents as young adults, and selective effects on interpersonal relationships. The long-term effects of adolescent depression manifest themselves in a reduced ability to establish an intimate relationship with a member of the opposite sex rather than the ability to maintain a circle of male and female friends. The distance from spouse (or partner) repeats within the marital dyad the lack of closeness to parents experienced in adolescence. Dysphoric mood seems to be associated with a deficiency to establish close interpersonal relationships within the family that expresses itself differently at different stages of the life cycle: toward parents in adolescence, and toward spouses and parents in young adulthood.