Depression in Adolescents Consistent Over Time, but Outcomes Vary Across Intersecting Identities

Depressive symptoms, including depressed mood and anhedonia, in adolescents remain consistent across symptom subgroups and time, but vary according to intersection identities, says new research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“Prevention protocols that highlight mechanisms of risk tethered to social identity, and include salient experiences of females, late adolescents, and multiracial youth in particular, need to be prioritized in mental health initiatives,” said co-authors Joseph R. Cohen, PhD, and Hena Thakur, PhD student, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The researchers conducted a secondary data analysis on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health administered between 2009 and 2017. From the responses, 145,499 adolescents representative of their age range for the US national population completed a diagnostic assessment for depression. The authors treated depressive symptoms, depressed mood, and anhedonia as separate variables. They utilized a novel, mixed-level model that used identity categories (age, gender, race/ethnicity/poverty level) and time to determine each factor’s effect on individual depression experiences.

The study found that while the relationship between depression outcomes and identity did not vary over time (p>.01), identity impacted depression at approximately 10 times the rate that time did. Multiracial, late adolescent, and female adolescents had a heightened risk of experiencing depressive symptoms. The results did not show significant deviance in outcomes across depressed mood and anhedonia as separate variables.

“Adolescent depression outcomes are mostly consistent across criterial symptom subtypes and time, but vary as a function of identity,” the authors concluded.

--Brionna Mendoza



Cohen JR, Thakur H. Intersecting identities and adolescent depression: patterns of depressed mood and anhedonia in the past decade. J Affect Disord. Published online September 23, 2022. Doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2022.09.088