Young Adolescent Girls' Experience of Non-Clinical Depression

By Snyman, Mv; Phil, M. et al. | Education, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Young Adolescent Girls' Experience of Non-Clinical Depression


Snyman, Mv, Phil, M., Poggenpoel, M., Myburgh, Cph, Education


Against this background two research aims were formulated for this qualitative research project which had an exploratory, descriptive and contextual focus:

* To explore and describe young adolescent girls experience non-clinical depression

* To describe guidelines to support young adolescent girls who experience nonclinical depression

Data was collected by means of phenomenological interviews with a purposively selected sample of young adolescent girls and was analyzed by means of Tesch's open-coding system of data analysis. Guba's measures to ensure trust-worthiness were applied and ethical measures were strictly adhered to during the research process. Two broad themes were identified during phase one of this study, which was conducted in two phases. The first theme reflects the adolescent girls' perception of how they experience non-clinical depression, while the second theme reflects how dysfunctional interpersonal relationships between the adolescent's family, peers or teachers precipitates or maintains the depression. In phase two these themes were used as a basis for inferring and describing guidelines to support young adolescent girls who experience non-clinical depression.

The findings from this study revealed that while the young adolescent girls are not clinically depressed their experience could well develop into full blown clinical depression if early intervention measures are not implemented to prevent this from happening. It is hoped that this study will assist in the early identification of nonclinical depression in young adolescent girls and that the guidelines will support them so that the development of clinical depression with its many negative repercussions can be reduced or prevented.

Rationale and problem statement

Research studies indicate that so-called non-clinical or normal depression is a common and widespread phenomenon among adolescents, with as many as one in five experiencing some or all aspects of depression (Clarizio, 1989:27). The critical age period for the emergence of depression among adolescents appears to be in early adolescence at about the onset of puberty (Nolen-Hoeksema & Girgus, 1994: 424) with girls being the gender predominantly affected (Hankin, Abramson, Moffitt, Silva, McGee & Angell, 1998:138). It appears that not only is there an increase in the incidence of depression among adolescents (Van Wicklin, 1990:5) but that there is a trend toward an earlier age onset of depression. This early onset forecasts a virulent lifetime course of the disorder, causing a chronic, recurring form of depression which has a debilitating effect on the overall functioning and quality of life of adolescents (Brage & Meredith, 1994:465; Hankin, et al 1998: 137).

Current research on adolescent depression indicates that depression is particularly responsive to intervention during the early adolescent years and that early identification will prevent the development of a chronic and severe form of depression in adolescents (Reynolds, 1984:172; Wodarski & Harris, 1987:480). These factors denote the necessity for the early identification of depression at the early stage of onset and for providing adolescents with guidelines to support them should they experience the disabling affects of depression.

Against this background the following research questions were formulated:

* How do young adolescent girls experience non-clinical depression?

* What guidelines can be described to support young adolescent girls who experience non-clinical depression?

Research objectives

Two research aims were formulated based on the research questions.

* To explore and describe young adolescent girls' experience of non-clinical depression.

* To describe guidelines to support young adolescent girls who experience nonclinical depression.

Research design

The research design in this study adhered to the requirements of a qualitative strategy and had a contextual, descriptive and exploratory focus.

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