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October 1980

Depression in an Adolescent Delinquent Population

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(10):1179-1184. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780230097015

• One hundred and twenty adolescents aged 13, 14, and 15 were given a structured psychiatric interview within 48 hours of their admission to a correctional facility. The interview assessed demography, social and delinquent history, family history, and drug and alcohol use and related problems. The interview issued diagnoses based on the Research Diagnostic Criteria. The adolescents were followed up with self-rated and observer-rated instruments. Twenty-three percent of the population met criteria for a major affective disorder. Observer blind ratings significantly identified the depressed group at 15 days. Self-ratings of depression did not separate the two groups. No pattern of antisocial or "acting-out" behavior differentiated the depressed group, although the depressed group did relate more of their problems to drug and alcohol abuse. A depressed or alcoholic family member significantly predicted for depression. Some possible unique cognitive aspects of depression in younger adolescents are explored, and implications for further research with delinquents are discussed.

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