Background: This study examined whether the possibility to predict future DSM-IV depressive disorder can be increased with recurrent screening for depression in community adolescents, compared to single screening in early or in late adolescence. In addition, it examined which depressive symptoms in early and late adolescence predicted future depressive disorder most accurately. Methods: Participants from an ongoing longitudinal cohort study were assessed when they were aged between 10 and 15 (early adolescence), and between 14 and 19 (late adolescence), and were followed until they were 20-25 (young adulthood). The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Youth Self-Report (YSR) were used to screen for depression in early and late adolescence, and CIDI/DSM-IV diagnoses of depressive disorder were used as the outcome measure during follow-up. Results: Recurrent screening only slightly improved the prediction of future depression, and cognitive and physical symptoms in late adolescence predicted future depression accurately in boys. Sleeping problems in early adolescence predicted future depression in girls. Limitations: The main limitation was the retrospective recall of the age of onset of a depressive disorder. Conclusions: Recurrent screening for depression did not predict future depressive disorder better than single screening in late adolescence. However, depressive symptoms like sleeping problems predicted future depression quite accurately in adolescent boys and girls. This indicates that it may be useful to screen adolescents for the presence of such symptoms, for instance in school settings, to predict which adolescents are at risk to develop DSM-IV depressive disorder in early adulthood.

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Journal of Affective Disorders
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Lang, N., Ferdinand, R., & Verhulst, F. (2007). Predictors of future depression in early and late adolescence. Journal of Affective Disorders, 97(1-3), 137–144. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2006.06.007