Lecturing on adolescent development, people are often surprised by the fact that 50 per cent of of mental health diagnosis are made by the age of 14. The average range of anxiety today would also have been considered clinical in the 1950s. So to with depression. Linked to increase rates of self-harm, suicide and substance misuse in young people, a recent survey found that 25 per cent of young women aged 14 were depressed.
New research shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.
Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education and the University of Liverpool analysed information on more than 10,000 children born in 2000-01 who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study.
At ages 3, 5, 7, 11 and 14, parents reported on their children’s mental health. Then, when they reached 14, the children were themselves asked questions about their depressive symptoms.
Based on the 14-year-olds reporting of their emotional problems, 24 per cent of girls and 9 per cent of boys suffer from depression.
The research, published with the National Children’s Bureau, also investigated links between depressive symptoms and family income. Generally, 14-year-olds from better-off families were less likely to have high levels of depressive symptoms compared to their peers from poorer homes. Parents’ reports of emotional problems were roughly the same for boys and girls throughout childhood, increasing from 7 per cent of children at age 7 to 12 per cent at age 11. However, by the time they reached early adolescence at age 14, emotional problems became more prevalent in girls, with 18 per cent having symptoms of depression and anxiety, compared to 12 per cent of boys.
Behaviour problems, such as acting out, fighting and being rebellious decreased from infancy to age 5, but then increased to age 14. Boys were more likely than girls to have behaviour problems throughout childhood and early adolescence.
To read the research click here.