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The COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures are likely to have a marked effect on mental health. It is important to use longitudinal data to improve inferences.
To quantify the prevalence of depression, anxiety and mental well-being before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, to identify groups at risk of depression and/or anxiety during the pandemic.
Data were from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) index generation (n = 2850, mean age 28 years) and parent generation (n = 3720, mean age 59 years), and Generation Scotland (n = 4233, mean age 59 years). Depression was measured with the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire in ALSPAC and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 in Generation Scotland. Anxiety and mental well-being were measured with the Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment-7 and the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale.
Depression during the pandemic was similar to pre-pandemic levels in the ALSPAC index generation, but those experiencing anxiety had almost doubled, at 24% (95% CI 23–26%) compared with a pre-pandemic level of 13% (95% CI 12–14%). In both studies, anxiety and depression during the pandemic was greater in younger members, women, those with pre-existing mental/physical health conditions and individuals in socioeconomic adversity, even when controlling for pre-pandemic anxiety and depression.
These results provide evidence for increased anxiety in young people that is coincident with the pandemic. Specific groups are at elevated risk of depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is important for planning current mental health provisions and for long-term impact beyond this pandemic.
Large population-based cohort studies of neuropsychological factors that characterise or precede depressive symptoms are rare. Most studies use small case-control or cross-sectional designs, which may cause selection bias and cannot test temporality. In a large UK population-based cohort, we investigated cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between inhibitory control of positive and negative information and adolescent depressive symptoms.
Cohort study of 2328 UK adolescents who completed an affective go/no-go task at age 18. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Clinical Interview Schedule Revised (CIS-R) and short Mood and Feeling Questionnaire (sMFQ) at age 18, and with the sMFQ 1 year later (age 19). Analyses were multilevel and traditional linear regressions, before and after adjusting for confounders.
Cross-sectionally, we found little evidence that adolescents with more depressive symptoms made more inhibitory control errors [after adjustments, errors increased by 0.04% per 1 s.d. increase in sMFQ score (95% confidence interval 0.02–0.06)], but this association was not observed for the CIS-R. There was no evidence for an influence of valence. Longitudinally, there was no evidence that reduced inhibitory control was associated with future depressive symptoms.
Inhibitory control of positive and negative information does not appear to be a marker of current or future depressive symptoms in adolescents and would not be a useful target in interventions to prevent adolescent depression. Our lack of convincing evidence for associations with depressive symptoms suggests that the affective go/no-go task is not a promising candidate for future neuroimaging studies of adolescent depression.
Depressive symptoms show different trajectories throughout childhood and adolescence that may have different consequences for adult outcomes.
To examine trajectories of childhood depressive symptoms and their association with education and employment outcomes in early adulthood.
We estimated latent trajectory classes from participants with repeated measures of self-reported depressive symptoms between 11 and 24 years of age and examined their association with two distal outcomes: university degree and those not in employment, education or training at age 24.
Our main analyses (n = 9399) yielded five heterogenous trajectories of depressive symptoms. The largest group found (70.5% of participants) had a stable trajectory of low depressive symptoms (stable–low). The other four groups had symptom profiles that reached full-threshold levels at different developmental stages and for different durations. We identified the following groups: childhood–limited (5.1% of participants) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 11–13; childhood–persistent (3.5%) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 13–24; adolescent onset (9.4%) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 17–19; and early-adult onset (11.6%) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 22–24. Relative to the majority ‘stable–low’ group, the other four groups all exhibited higher risks of one or both adult outcomes.
Accurate identification of depressive symptom trajectories requires data spanning the period from early adolescence to early adulthood. Consideration of changes in, as well as levels of, depressive symptoms could improve the targeting of preventative interventions in early-to-mid adolescence.
Recent evidence suggests that post-conflict stressors in addition to war
trauma play an important role in the development of psychopathology.
To investigate whether daily stressors mediate the association between
war exposure and symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression among
Standardised assessments were conducted with 363 Sierra Leonean youth
(26.7% female, mean age 20.9, s.d. = 3.38) 6 years post-war.
The extent of war exposures was significantly associated with
post-traumatic stress symptoms (P<0.05) and a
significant proportion was explained by indirect pathways through daily
stressors (0.089, 95% CI 0.04–0.138, P<0.001). In
contrast, there was little evidence for an association from war exposure
to depression scores (P = 0.127); rather any association
was explained via indirect pathways through daily stressors (0.103, 95%
CI 0.048–0.158, P<0.001).
Among war-affected youth, the association between war exposure and
psychological distress was largely mediated by daily stressors, which
have potential for modification with evidence-based intervention.