Study of prevalence of depression in adolescent students of a public school

Ind Psychiatry J. 2009 Jan;18(1):43-6. doi: 10.4103/0972-6748.57859.


Background: Three to nine per cent of teenagers meet the criteria for depression at any one time, and at the end of adolescence, as many as 20% of teenagers report a lifetime prevalence of depression. Usual care by primary care physicians fails to recognize 30-50% of depressed patients.

Materials and methods: Cross-sectional one-time observational study using simple screening instruments for detecting early symptoms of depression in adolescents. Two psychological instruments were used: GHQ-12 and BDI. Also socio-demographic data (e.g. academic performance, marital harmony of parents, bullying in school, etc) was collected in a separate semi-structured performa. Statistical analysis was done with Fisher's Exact Test using SPSS17.

Results: 15.2% of school-going adolescents were found to be having evidence of distress (GHQ-12 score e14); 18.4% were depressed (BDI score e12); 5.6% students were detected to have positive scores on both the instruments. Certain factors like parental fights, beating at home and inability to cope up with studies were found to be significantly (P < 0.05) associated with higher GHQ-12 scores, indicating evidence of distress. Economic difficulty, physical punishment at school, teasing at school and parental fights were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with higher BDI scores, indicating depression.

Conclusion: The study highlights the common but ignored problem of depression in adolescence. We recommend that teachers and parents be made aware of this problem with the help of school counselors so that the depressed adolescent can be identified and helped rather than suffer silently.

Keywords: Depression; Public school; Students.