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Depression Hits 1 in 10 Teen Girls Each Year

Teen Girls Twice as Likely to Suffer Depression as Boys
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WebMD Health News

Feb. 4, 2004 -- About one in 10 teen girls suffer a major depression each year, a Canadian study shows.

The study, led by University of Alberta researcher Nancy L. Galambos, PhD, analyzed four years of data from 1,322 boys and girls. At the start of the study, the teens ranged in age from 12 to 19 years old.

Not surprisingly, more than one in five girls admitted to having been depressed sometime in her life. Only one in 10 boys said they'd ever been depressed.

But more probing questions showed that during each year of the study, nearly one in 10 teen girls had a major depressive episode -- about twice the rate of boys.

"This is a substantial number of young Canadian women who should be identified as depressed and treated," Galambos says in a news release.

"Very substantial proportions of young people will experience a major depressive episode at some point as they move through adolescence," Galambos and colleagues write in the January issue of the International Journal of Behavioral Development. "About twice as many females as males will be so affected."

Galambos notes that depression puts teen girls at risk of anxiety, eating disorders, conduct problems, academic failure, and trouble with relationships.

Interestingly, smoking was also linked to depression. Girls who smoked were 40% more likely to report a major depression during the four-year study.

"It might be that some people are smoking to self-medicate because they already feel bad," Galambos says. "It's an interesting two-way relationship between smokers and depression that needs further investigation."

Galambos began the study while still at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

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