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Depression in Youth Ups Odds for Adult Illnesses: Study

HealthDay News
by Robert Preidt
Updated: Dec 14th 2020

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MONDAY, Dec. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Having depression during childhood or in the teen years appears to increase the odds of illness and early death later on, researchers say.

The new long-term study included nearly 1.5 million Swedes. Of those, more than 37,000 were diagnosed with depression at least once between the ages of 5 and 19 years.

The study participants were followed for 12 years. Those with an early history of depression had a higher risk of being diagnosed with 66 of 69 medical conditions assessed in the study, including sleep disorders, type 2 diabetes, viral hepatitis, and kidney and liver diseases.

In addition, these people also had a significantly higher risk of injuries, especially injuries from self-harm, and almost six times the risk of premature death.

The researchers also identified differences between women and men.

Women with early-onset depression were more likely to suffer injuries, as well as urinary, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Men, however, had a higher risk of obesity, thyroid problems, celiac disease, connective tissue disorders and eczema.

Part of the link between early-life depression and later risk of illness and death might be explained by other mental health disorders, such as anxiety and substance abuse, according to the researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The findings, published online Dec. 9 in JAMA Psychiatry, suggest that young people who have suffered depression need to be monitored for other health problems.

"Our study shows that children and teenagers diagnosed with depression have a significantly higher risk of premature death, self-harm and suffering from other diseases later in life," said corresponding author Sarah Bergen. She's a senior researcher in the department of medical epidemiology and biostatistics.

"It underscores how important it is that these children and teenagers receive the help they need and that medical personnel monitor for subsequent psychiatric and somatic diseases," she added in an institute news release.

While depression is rarely diagnosed in young children, the risk increases through the teen years, the researchers noted.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on teens and depression.

SOURCE: Karolinska Institute, news release, Dec. 9, 2020