Although it has often been suggested that physical activity and depression are intertwined, only few studies have investigated whether specific aspects of physical activity predict the incidence of major depression in adolescents from the general population. Therefore the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of nature, frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity during early adolescence on the onset of a major depressive episode in early adulthood. In a population sample of adolescents (N=1396), various aspects of physical activity were assessed at early adolescence (mean age 13.02, SD=0.61). Major depressive episode onset was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. A Cox regression model was performed to investigate whether physical activity characteristics and their interactions with gender predicted a major depressive episode onset up until mean age 18.5 (SD=0.61). The individual characteristics of physical activity (nature, frequency, duration and intensity) or their interactions with gender did not predict a major depressive episode onset (p values >0.05). So far, there is no prospective evidence that physical activity protects against the development of adolescent depressive episodes in either boys or girls.

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Journal of Psychiatric Research
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Stavrakakis, N., Roest, A., Verhulst, F., Ormel, J. H., de Jonge, P., & Oldehinkel, A. (2013). Physical activity and onset of depression in adolescents: A prospective study in the general population cohort TRAILS. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(10), 1304–1308. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.06.005