To examine the correlates and consequences of high levels of depressive symptoms among adolescents.
Secondary analysis of the 1997 Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls, a survey of a nationally representative sample of 4648 adolescent boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18 years, inclusive, conducted in school settings. The self-administered questionnaire contains a screening instrument for depression based on the Children's Depression Inventory.
Days of school missed, performance at grade level, alcohol use, drug use, smoking, and bingeing.
After controlling for sociodemographics, life events, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and exposure to violence, relative to other children, children and adolescents with high degrees of depressive symptoms missed about 1 day more of school in the month preceding the survey (P<.05) and had higher odds of smoking (odds ratio, 1.84; P<.001), bingeing (odds ratio, 2.02; P<.001), and suicidal ideation (odds ratio, 16.59; P<.001).
High levels of depressive symptoms are correlated with serious and significant consequences, even after controlling for life circumstances.