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January 2001

Adolescent Depression: Same or Different?

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001;58(1):21-22. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.58.1.21

THE CONCEPT of a depressive syndrome that is distinct from the broad class of childhood- or adolescent-onset mental disorders has a relatively short history. Until the 1970s, it was believed that depressive disorders resembling adult depression were uncommon among the young. Preadolescent children were thought incapable of experiencing depression. Depression in adolescents was often seen as a normal feature of development, so-called adolescent turmoil. However, in the 1970s and early 1980s, several investigators began to diagnose depression in young people using adult criteria.1-3 These studies showed that conditions resembling adult depression could occur from middle childhood upward. Indeed, recent epidemiological studies have reported that as many as 1 in 10 adolescent girls suffer from depressive disorders.4,5