Objective: To examine the correlates and consequences of high levels of depressive symptoms among adolescents.
Design: Secondary analysis of the 1997 Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls, a survey of a nationally representative sample of 4648 adolescent boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18 years, inclusive, conducted in school settings. The self-administered questionnaire contains a screening instrument for depression based on the Children's Depression Inventory.
Outcome: Days of school missed, performance at grade level, alcohol use, drug use, smoking, and bingeing.
Results: After controlling for sociodemographics, life events, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and exposure to violence, relative to other children, children and adolescents with high degrees of depressive symptoms missed about 1 day more of school in the month preceding the survey (P<.05) and had higher odds of smoking (odds ratio, 1.84; P<.001), bingeing (odds ratio, 2.02; P<.001), and suicidal ideation (odds ratio, 16.59; P<.001).
Conclusion: High levels of depressive symptoms are correlated with serious and significant consequences, even after controlling for life circumstances.