Factors associated with detection and receipt of treatment for youth with depression and anxiety disorders

Acad Pediatr. Jan-Feb 2010;10(1):36-40. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2009.09.011.


Objective: Anxiety and depression are common among youth and are associated with significant morbidity. Few youth with depression are diagnosed and receive treatment for these disorders. The purpose of this study was to examine the rate of recognition and management among an insured population and the factors associated with evidence of detection among youth.

Methods: Structured mental health interviews assessing depression and anxiety diagnoses were completed with a random sample of 581 youth (age range 11-17 years) from an integrated health care system. Administrative data on medical and pharmacy services were used to examine any evidence of detection by the medical system in the prior 12 months.

Results: Fifty-one youth met criteria for an anxiety or depressive disorder. Twenty-two percent of these youth with an anxiety or depressive disorder as defined in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition had evidence of detection or treatment. Factors associated with detection and treatment included having diagnosis of a depressive disorder (with or without an anxiety disorder), more depressive symptoms, greater functional impairment, a higher number of primary care visits in the prior year, and higher parent-reported externalizing symptoms. On multivariate analysis, having more depressive symptoms and a higher number of primary care visits were significant predictors of detection and receipt of treatment.

Conclusions: The rate of detection and treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders is very low in this age group and suggests a need for increased focus on detection, particularly in light of recent evidence suggesting decreases in diagnosis and treatment among youth following the black box warning regarding antidepressant medications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Antidepressive Agents