U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Mental Health

In 2007, 8.2 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years experienced a major depressive episode (MDE), which is defined as at least 2 weeks of depressed mood or loss of pleasure in daily activities, plus a majority of specific depression symptoms, such as altered sleeping patterns, fatigue, and feelings of worthlessness. Females were more likely than males to experience an MDE (11.9 versus 4.6 percent; data not shown). For both sexes, occurrence of MDE peaked at 16 years of age; of females in that age group, 17.3 percent experienced at least one MDE in the past year. Adolescents of two or more races were most likely to experience an MDE (10.0 percent), followed by non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black adolescents (8.7 and 7.8 percent, respectively); American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents were least likely to experience an MDE (4.6 percent; data not shown).

Among adolescents who received treatment or counseling for an emotional or behavioral problem (not including drug or alcohol use), depression was the most commonly reported problem (50.0 percent). Adolescents also commonly reported receiving treatment for problems with home or family (28.8 percent), breaking rules or acting out (25.1 percent), and contemplating or attempting suicide (20.2 percent).

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