Gender inequalities in the prevalence of low mood and related factors in schooled adolescents during the 2019-2020 school year: DESKcohort project

J Affect Disord. 2023 Jul 15:333:305-312. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.04.058. Epub 2023 Apr 19.


Background: Mood disorders are the second most prevalent mental disorders in childhood and adolescence. Many undiagnosed people manifest subthreshold symptoms, like low mood, and present worse prognoses than asymptomatic healthy subjects. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of low mood, gender inequalities, and associated factors, in 12- to 18-year-old adolescents in the rural and medium-sized urban areas of Central Catalonia during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Methods: Cross-sectional study with data from a cohort of high-schooled students (2019-2020), with a convenience sample of 6428 adolescents from the Central region of Catalonia (48.3 % boys and 51.7 % girls). Prevalence of low mood was estimated by gender and exposure variables, and ratios were obtained using Poisson regression models, adjusting for several exposure variables one by one, and for all of them jointly.

Results: The prevalence of low mood was 18.6 %, with statistically significant differences between genders (11.6 %, 95 % CI: 10.5-12.8 in boys and 25.1 %, 95 % CI: 23.7-26.6 in girls). Being an immigrant, dieting, and daily tobacco smoking were only associated with low mood in girls, whereas risky alcohol consumption was only associated in boys. Sexual violence was found to account for 36.2 % of low mood problems in girls.

Limitations: The main limitation of the study is its cross-sectional design, which means that no casual relationships can be extracted of this study.

Conclusions: The prevalence of low mood varies between the sexes, highlighting the importance of developing gender-specific interventions to reduce its incidence in young people, considering the factors associated with this condition.

Keywords: Gender inequalities; Lifestyle factors; Low mood; Mood disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gender Equity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Schools