The study of patterns of depressed mood and anhedonia among adolescents found that outcomes vary with respect to identity but are generally consistent with respect to criterial symptom subtypes and time.
This study found that adolescent depression outcomes are mostly consistent across criterial symptom subtypes and time, but vary as a function of identity. 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. Research suggests adolescent depression is increasing and certain adolescents may be uniquely vulnerable. However, limited conceptualizations of identity and time, as well as the reliance on unitary conceptualizations of depression, inhibits a nuanced perspective on these trends. In response, the authors examined how adolescent depressive symptoms, depressed mood, and anhedonia, vary across intersecting identities over time. Secondary data analysis on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2009 and 2017 was conducted. In total 145,499 nationally representative adolescents (ages 12–17) completed a diagnostic assessment for depression. Lifetime and past year reports of depressive symptoms, depressed mood, and anhedonia were treated as separate variables. A novel, mixed-level model in which participants were nested within identity (defined by one's age, gender, race/ethnicity, poverty level) and time was used to test the study’s aims. Overall, the relation between depression outcomes and identity did not vary over time (p > .01). Further, identity's impact on depression was approximately ten-fold that of temporal effects. Multiracial, late adolescent, female adolescents were at particular risk. Findings concerning depressed mood and anhedonia were similar across analyses. All facets of identity (e.g., sexual identity) were not included in the model and a unidimensional measure of poverty may have underestimated its depressogenic influence. (Published Abstract Provided)