School-Based Mindfulness Program and Depression in Adolescents

This study examined moderators of the effects of a universal school-based mindfulness program on adolescents’ depressive symptoms.

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Based on theory and previous research, we identified the following potential moderators:

  1. severity of symptoms of depression at baseline
  2. gender
  3. age
  4. school track.

The study uses a pooled dataset from two consecutive randomized controlled trials in adolescents (13–18 years) in secondary schools in Belgium.

We found no moderation effects of gender, age, and school track. Six months after the training, we found a marginally significant moderation effect for severity of symptoms of depression at baseline with greater decrease in symptoms for students with high levels of depression. The general absence of differential intervention effects for gender, age, and school track supports the broad scope of the school-based mindfulness group intervention.

Full reference: der Gucht, K.V. et al. (2017) Potential Moderators of the Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program on Symptoms of Depression in Adolescents. Mindfulness. 8(797)

Bullying’s lasting impact

A new study found that kids who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to suffer from depression in seventh grade; and have a greater likelihood of using alcohol, marijuana or tobacco in tenth grade | ScienceDaily

legs-407196_960_720Although peer victimization is common during late childhood and early adolescence and appears to be associated with increased substance use, few studies have examined these associations longitudinally — meaning that data is gathered from the same subjects repeatedly over several years — or point to the psychological processes whereby peer victimization leads to substance use.

“We show that peer victimization in fifth grade has lasting effects on substance use five years later. We also show that depressive symptoms help to explain why peer victimization is associated with substance use, suggesting that youth may be self-medicating by using substances to relieve these negative emotions,” Earnshaw said.

Read the full overview via ScienceDaily here

The original research abstract is available here

Gender Differences in Depression

Salk, R. et al. Psychological Bulletin | Published online: 27 April 2017

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In 2 meta-analyses on gender differences in depression in nationally representative samples, we advance previous work by including studies of depression diagnoses and symptoms to

(a) estimate the magnitude of the gender difference in depression across a wide array of nations and ages;

(b) use a developmental perspective to elucidate patterns of gender differences across the life span; and

(c) incorporate additional theory-driven moderators (e.g., gender equity).

The gender difference for diagnoses emerged earlier than previously thought, with OR = 2.37 at age 12. For both meta-analyses, the gender difference peaked in adolescence (OR = 3.02 for ages 13–15, and d = 0.47 for age 16) but then declined and remained stable in adulthood. Cross-national analyses indicated that larger gender differences were found in nations with greater gender equity, for major depression, but not depression symptoms. The gender difference in depression represents a health disparity, especially in adolescence, yet the magnitude of the difference indicates that depression in men should not be overlooked

Read the abstract here

Pharmacotherapy and adolescent depression – an important treatment option

Dubicka, B & Brent, D. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 22(2) pp. 59-60

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Over the past decade, rates of depression and of suicide in adolescents have been increasing (Collishaw, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56, 2015, 370; Bor et al., The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48, 2014, 606). At the same time, there is some evidence that rates of diagnosis and, in the US at least, referral for depression in adolescents has been declining (Libby et al., Archives of General Psychiatry, 66, 2009, 633; John et al., Psychological Medicine, 46, 2016, 3315). These worrying statistics highlight the importance of disseminating accurate information about the risks and benefits of treatments for adolescent depression, in order to combat therapeutic nihilism.

Extant controversy about the best ways to treat adolescent depression, and in particular with regards to the use of antidepressants, may have contributed to these trends. More specifically, we believe that some recent, high profile publications have incorrectly interpreted the benefit to risk ratio for the use of antidepressants in adolescent depression as unfavourable (e.g. Cipriani et al., The Lancet, 388, 2016, 881). In this editorial, we review clinical trial and pharmaco-epidemiological data that supports the retention of the use of antidepressants in the management of depressed adolescents.

Read the editorial here

 

 

World Health Day 2017 – Depression

This year’s World Health Day (7 April 2017) focuses on the World Health Organisation’s one-year global campaign on depression.

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Image source: http://www.who.int

Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.

Despite being very common, depression is still under-recognized and undertreated and there is a need to open up dialogue and tackle the stigma associated with it.  The campaign provides information regarding the consequences and management of depression, and how to provide support to people living with depression. Resources include videos, handouts and posters.

Read more at World Health Organisation

Additional links:

New ways to treat depression in teenagers

By Ian Michael Goodyer (University of Cambridge) for The Conversation | Published online: 6 March 2017

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Image source: Mary Lock – Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Around one in 20 teenagers suffers from depression. Episodes can last for several months. Unfortunately, about 50% of teenagers who have a depressive episode are at risk of falling ill again, increasing the likelihood of relationship difficulties, educational failure and poor employment prospects. It’s important that treatments have a lasting effect to reduce the risk of becoming ill a second time.

My research investigates the causes of and treatments for adolescent mental illnesses, with a particular focus on depression. One of our key projects is evaluating the importance of various psychological treatments that are effective in helping young people with depression.

Only one treatment – cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – is approved by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for treating depression in teenagers. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of CBT therapists in the UK. This means that many young people with depression are placed on a waiting list, increasing their risk of worsening mental health.

Read the full blog post here

Social media is not to blame for depression in young people

For all we hear about an escalation in mental health problems in adolescence, there is no persuasive evidence that the internet is to blame | McCrae, N. for The Conversation

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My colleagues and I recently conducted a systematic review of the evidence and found only a weak correlation between teenagers’ use of social media and depression.

After its launch in 2004, the social networking website Facebook rapidly expanded to global coverage. Since the advent of smartphones, instant messaging sites such as WhatsApp have become the most popular means of communication for younger people, who spend much of their lives fixated on digital devices, oblivious to everything around them. Some experts believe that this immersion in cyberspace has negative psychological and social effects, and news reports and opinion pieces in newspapers often portray the internet as a danger to the young.

We examined research measuring social media use and depression in young people up to 18 years of age. Eleven studies, with a total of 12,646 participants, were included. Overall, we found a small but statistically significant relationship between online social interaction and depressed mood.

Read the full blog post here

Read the systematic review here