Epidemiology

There are now sufficient well-conducted epidemiological studies indicating that major depression has an estimated 6- to 12-month period prevalence of 3 per cent in adolescents, and between 0.5 to 1 per cent in school-aged children. All studies note the trend for depression to rise in early adolescence as well as a transition from equal rates for males and females in childhood to an excess of the latter in adolescence. Rates continue to rise for boys throughout adolescence, although at a slower pace than for girls. Increasingly, there are sex-differentiated prevalence rates during adolescence, which are most apparent in cohorts who have obtained at least the Tanner stage 3 level of secondary sexual characteristics.(7 ,,79> Rates of dysthymia are far less clear but may be around 6 per cent in children and perhaps around 10 per cent in adolescent females.(5 80) There are no rates for adolescent boys, and the association between dysthymia in adolescence (as opposed to children) and subsequent episodes of major depression is unclear.

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