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Mental Health

Narrative

In 2009, 8.1 percent or 2.0 million adolescents aged 12–17 years experienced at least one major depressive episode (MDE), which is defined as having at least 2 weeks of depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, plus a majority of specific depression symptoms, such as altered sleeping patterns, fatigue, and feelings of worthlessness.1 Females were more likely than males to experience MDE (11.7 percent versus 4.7 percent). Occurrence of MDE increased with age, from 3.6 percent among children age 12 years to 10.9 percent among children age 17.

Among adolescents experiencing MDE in 2009, over one-half (1.4 million) also experienced severe impairment defined by the degree to which activities and roles, such as completing chores at home, going to school or work, or maintaining close family relationships are affected. MDE with severe impairment was more common among older adolescents and females.

In 2009, adolescents aged 12 to 17 with past-year MDE were more likely than those without MDE to have used illicit drugs in the past year (35.7 compared to 18.0 percent). Adolescents with past-year MDE were also more likely to report daily cigarette and heavy alcohol use in the past month compared with those without past-year MDE. Among adolescents with past-year MDE who used illicit drugs, nearly one-quarter (24.2 percent) reported using marijuana or hashish and nearly one-fifth (19.2 percent) reported non-medical use of psychotherapeutics, including pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives. Among adolescents who did not experience past-year MDE, the proportion who reported using these substances was 12.6 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively.

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-39, HHS Publication No. SMA 10-4609). Rockville, MD.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

MDE in the past year graph

This image is described in the Data section.

Substance abuse among adolescents by MDE graph

Data

Occurrence of Major Depressive Episode (MDE)* in the Past Year Among Adolescents Aged 12-17 Years, by Age and Sex, 2009
Age Percent of Adolescents
Male Female
*MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specific depression symptoms.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2009 National Survey of Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. Accessed February 2011.
Total 4.7 11.7
Age 12 1.8 5.4
Age 13 2.4 8.5
Age 14 3.6 10.6
Age 15 6.4 14.9
Age 16 5.8 14.6
Age 17 7.0 14.8
Substance Use among Adolescents Aged 12-17, by Past-Year Major Depressive Episode (MDE)*, 2009
Age Percent of Adolescents
Past Year MDE No Past Year MDE
*MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specific depression symptoms.
**Illicit Drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used non-medically.
***Heavy Alcohol Use is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2009 National Survey of Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. Accessed February 2011.
Past Year Illicit Drug Use** 35.7 18.0
Past Month Daily Cigarette Use 3.6 1.9
Past Mont Heavy Alcohol Use*** 4.2 1.9

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