Investigating Health Correlates of Adolescent Depression in Canada

By Afifi, Tracie O.; Enns, Murray W. et al. | Canadian Journal of Public Health, November/December 2005 | Go to article overview

Investigating Health Correlates of Adolescent Depression in Canada


Afifi, Tracie O., Enns, Murray W., Cox, Brian J., Martens, Patricia J., Canadian Journal of Public Health


ABSTRACT

Background: The prevalence of depression rises sharply during adolescence.1,2 Understanding health correlates of adolescent depression may provide descriptive information with regard to which adolescents are more likely to be depressed. Health determinants have been found to have associations with depression in adult populations, but have never been investigated concurrently with depression in a national sample of adolescents in Canada. Therefore, the aim of the present investigation was to understand which health determinants would be significantly associated with adolescent depression.

Methods: A sample of 17,557 adolescents was used from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 1.1 to determine the health correlates of adolescent depression among males and females. To understand the relationship between health determinants, logistic regressions were conducted.

Results: The survey had an 84.7% response rate. The past 12-month prevalence of depression among the sample of adolescents was 6.5% ± 0.4% (3.4% ± 0.27% for males and 9.8% ± 0.44% for females). Reporting fair/poor perceived health, smoking, alcohol dependence, food allergies, migraine headaches, chronic bronchitis, and having physical health conditions had positive associations with depression for males and females. However, gender differences in the relationship between health correlates and depression were found. Even after controlling for all variables, females were still more likely to be depressed.

Conclusions: Several health determinants were associated with depression in adolescents in Canada. However, the relationship between some health determinants and depression functioned differently for males and females.

MeSH terms: Adolescent; depression; health; Canada

A dolescence is a unique life stage that is vastly different from childhood. Research has shown that as children move into adolescence, depressive symptoms increase.2 It has been estimated that depression is twice as common in adolescence compared to childhood.1 The 12-mondi prevalence of adolescent depression in Canada in 1996 was estimated to be between 7 and 9%,3 which was similar to the 12-month prevalence of depression among adults aged 25 to 44 years (4 to 9%).4 A large body of research identifying multiple factors involved in adolescent depression exists. For example, such research has determined that female gender,3,5,6 fair/poor general health,57 school suspension,5 poor family relationships,5 alcohol problems,8 low self-esteem," and suicidal ideation9 are associated with adolescent depression or depressive symptoms. However, research has not included several important health determinants concurrently when studying adolescent depression at a national level in Canada, even though health determinants have been found to have associations with mental health in adult populations.10-16 A determinant of health is any factor that creates change in a health condition.17 Health determinants in the current investigation included: physical activity, self-perceived general health, smoking, alcohol dependence, and numerous physical health conditions.

Understanding the health correlates of adolescent depression is important for several reasons. First, depressive disorders are one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.18 It is important to understand adolescent depression since mental disorders in adolescence are likely to be accompanied by significant functional impairments, the development of other mental disorders, and are likely to continue into adulthood.19 Identifying and treating depressed adolescents may have the potential to reduce or eliminate the burden of the disorder in current and later life stages.20 second, investigating health correlates of adolescent depression provides descriptive information with regard to which adolescents are more likely to be depressed. Gender differences in the prevalence of adolescent depression have been well established in the literature. …

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