"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Less than half of teens with depression received assist in 2021

October 9, 2023 – About one in five U.S. adolescents experienced clinical depression in 2021, the primary full yr of the pandemic, but fewer than half received treatment for the mental illness.

Adolescents of Latino descent or of mixed race had the best rates of depression but were least prone to receive treatment. Results were published this week in JAMA Pediatrics and supply one of the vital comprehensive pictures of the already well-documented mental health crisis amongst teenagers that erupted in the course of the pandemic.

One of the study's goals was to look at whether there are differences within the prevalence of major depressive disorder amongst adolescents of various racial or ethnic groups, the authors wrote. They also examined how likely adolescents are to receive treatment for major depression. For the study, adolescents were defined as young people ages 12 to 17.

The researchers examined survey data from greater than 10,000 U.S. adolescents who participated 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. They found that adolescents of various races or ethnicities had the best rates of major depressive disorder. Specifically, the evaluation showed that major depressive disorder occurred in the next individuals:

  • About 27% of adolescents who reported multiple race or ethnicity reported having major depressive disorder.
  • About 23% of Latino youth
  • About 20% of white youth.
  • About 15% of black youth.
  • About 15% of Asian youth.

Meanwhile, only 29% of Latino youth and 21% of multiracial youth reported receiving treatment for his or her major depressive disorder, which was the bottom rate amongst all racial or ethnic groups analyzed within the study. Latino adolescents were least prone to be treated for major depressive disorder by a clinical-level care provider or mental health specialist, and were least likely of all groups to be prescribed medication.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is also known as clinical depression or just depression. Symptoms can vary but typically include sadness and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Some people experience sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, fatigue and other physical changes. To diagnose depression, symptoms must last at the very least two weeks, in keeping with the American Psychiatric Association.

“The high rates of MDD may be attributed in part to the emotional turmoil and trauma of the pandemic, which affected youth overall but particularly members of racial and ethnic minority groups due to the disproportionately high rates of COVID-19-related illness and death,” the authors wrote.

They also suggested that the high depression rate can have been influenced by low utilization of mental health services and barriers to treatment reminiscent of poor access to mental health take care of individuals with public medical health insurance reminiscent of Medicaid. Only about 40% of psychiatrists accept Medicaid, the researchers found.

“These findings suggest that U.S. federal policies should target youth in general and racial and ethnic minorities in particular to ensure timely and equitable access to high-quality mental health treatment,” the authors write.