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There is limited information on long-term outcomes of adolescent depression. This study examines the associations between severity of depression in adolescence and a broad array of adult functional outcomes.
Data were gathered as part of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a 35-year longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1265 children born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1977. Severity of depression at age 14–16 years was classified into three levels according to DSM symptom criteria for major depression (no depression/sub-threshold symptoms/major depression). This classification was related to adult functional outcomes assessed at ages 30 and 35 years using a generalized estimating equation modeling approach. Outcome measures spanned domains of mental disorder, education/economic circumstances, family circumstances and partner relationships.
There were modest but statistically significant bivariate associations between adolescent depression severity and most outcomes. After covariate adjustment there remained weak but significant (p < 0.05) associations with rates of major depression, anxiety disorder, illicit substance abuse/dependence, any mental health problem and intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization. Estimates of attributable risk for these outcomes ranged from 3.8% to 7.8%. For two outcomes there were significant (p < 0.006) gender interactions such that depression severity was significantly related to increased rates of unplanned pregnancy and IPV victimization for females but not for males.
The findings reinforce the importance of the individual/family context in which adolescent depression occurs. When contextual factors and probable maturational effects are taken into account the direct effects of adolescent depression on functioning in mature adulthood appear to be very modest.
Previous research has found that mental health is strongly associated with life satisfaction. In this study we examine associations between mental health problems and life satisfaction in a birth cohort studied from 18 to 35 years.
Data were gathered during the Christchurch Health and Development Study, which is a longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1265 children, born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1977. Assessments of psychiatric disorder (major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidality, alcohol dependence and illicit substance dependence) using DSM diagnostic criteria and life satisfaction were obtained at 18, 21, 25, 30 and 35 years.
Significant associations (p < 0.01) were found between repeated measures of life satisfaction and the psychiatric disorders major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidality, alcohol dependence and substance dependence. After adjustment for non-observed sources of confounding by fixed effects, statistically significant associations (p < 0.05) remained between life satisfaction and major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidality and substance dependence. Overall, those reporting three or more mental health disorders had mean life satisfaction scores that were nearly 0.60 standard deviations below those without mental health problems. A structural equation model examined the direction of causation between life satisfaction and mental health problems. Statistically significant (p < 0.05) reciprocal associations were found between life satisfaction and mental health problems.
After adjustment for confounding, robust and reciprocal associations were found between mental health problems and life satisfaction. Overall, this study showed evidence that life satisfaction influences mental disorder, and that mental disorder influences life satisfaction.
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