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

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Mental Health

In 2008, 8.3 percent of adolescents aged 12–17 years experienced at least one major depressive episode (MDE), which is defined as having at least 2 weeks of a depressed mood or loss of interest or 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 MDE (12.4 percent versus 4.3 percent). For both sexes, occurrence of MDE generally increased with age, with the rate for males peaking at 17 years of age (6.3 percent), and the rate for females peaking at 16 years of age (17.6 percent). Adolescents of two or more races were most likely to experience MDE (12.0 percent), followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (10.1 percent). Among adolescents with MDE in the past year, 37.7 percent received treatment (data not shown).

In 2008, 12.7 percent of adolescents aged 12–17 years received treatment or counseling for an emotional or behavioral problem (not including drug or alcohol use). Among those who received treatment, depression was the most commonly reported problem (48.6 percent). Adolescents also commonly reported receiving treatment for problems with home or family (28.9 percent), breaking rules or acting out (25.7 percent), and feeling very afraid or tense (20.4 percent).

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