Teen Depression Rates on the Rise, Study Finds

The number of teens experiencing a major depressive episode increased from 2005 to 2014, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that self-reported symptoms of depression were particularly high among teen girls, with 17.3 percent of girls reporting a major depressive episode in 2014.

“The findings call for renewed efforts to expand service capacity to best meet the mental health care needs of [young people],” the study’s authors wrote.

The report used National Survey on Drug Use and Health data collected from 2005 to 2014. Participants included 172,495 teens aged 12 to 17 and 178,755 adults aged 18 to 25.

The 12-month prevalence of major depressive episodes among adolescents increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014. The rate increased from 8.8 percent in 2005 to 9.6 percent in 2014 among young adults.

In 2014, non-Hispanic white participants reported higher rates of major depressive episodes than any other ethnicity in the report. Non-Hispanic black participants reported the lowest rates of major depressive episodes.

The same year, teens aged 16 and 17 reported the highest rates of major depressive episodes among all age groups. Adolescents aged 12 and 13 reported the lowest rates of major depressive episodes, the study found.

Teen girls showed higher rates of major depressive episodes than teen boys each year from 2005 to 2014.

The study also found that 35.3 percent of participants met the criteria for a drug use disorder. Twenty-nine percent of participants met the criteria for alcohol addiction.

“Prevention, early detection, and treatment of depression and other common mental disorders in these age groups are major goals of public mental health initiatives,” the authors concluded. “Yet adaptation and broad implementation of effective treatment and prevention programs remains a challenge.”

Cyberbullying May Contribute

The authors speculated that teen girls may have been exposed to more risk factors associated with depression in the past decade. Studies have suggested that cyberbullying has increased more significantly among teen girls than boys.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of School Health compared cyberbullying and school bullying trends. The report found that the prevalence of cyberbullying increased among high school students from 15 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2012.

Cyberbullying increased more among teen girls than boys, the study found.

Adolescent girls also use cell phones with texting applications more frequently than adolescent boys, according to a 2015 Pew survey.

A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Public Health found that chronic stress, low emotional stability, female gender, young age, depression, and extraversion are associated with problematic mobile phone use.

The Pediatrics study comes on the heels of news that suicide rates have risen among children aged 10 to 14. The rate of suicide for the age group has been increasing steadily since 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Depression and Substance Abuse

Mental illness is prevalent in the United States.

About 18.5 percent of American adults experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness . About 1 in 5 teens aged 13 to 18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point in his or her life.

Many people battle mental illness and substance abuse simultaneously. More than half of American adults with a substance use disorder also have a mental illness, such as depression, per NAMI.



Medical Disclaimer: DrugRehab.com aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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