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Does Teen Depression Come Back?

Most teenagers with depression experience a recurrence at some point in their lives. Twenty percent to 40 percent of depressed teenagers relapse within two years, and 70 percent will do so by adulthood. The reasons for relapse are not known, but there is some evidence that experiencing a depression leaves behind psychological "scars" that may increase vulnerability throughout early life.
The age of first onset of depression appears to play a role in its course. Children who first become depressed before puberty are at risk of some form of mental disorder in adulthood, while teenagers who first become depressed after puberty are most likely to experience another episode of depression.
These different outcomes with depression before and after puberty suggest that different mechanisms may lead to superficially similar, but inherently different, clinical conditions. Some factors that can worsen the prognosis for depressed children and adolescents include:
  • Depression occurring in the context of conduct disorder
  • Living in conflict-ridden families.
Children, and particularly adolescents, who suffer from depression are at a much greater risk of committing suicide than are children without depression.

Teen Depression and Bipolar Disorder -- What's the Link?

Twenty percent to 40 percent of adolescents with depression eventually develop bipolar disorder (manic-depression). A few factors that may predict later bipolar disorder include:
  • Young age at the time of the first depressive episode
  • Psychotic features in the initial depression
  • A family history of bipolar disorder
  • Symptoms of hypomania developing during treatment with antidepressants.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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