Problems Related to Identifying/Diagnosing and the Assessment of Depression in Adolescents Taking Into Account Gender and Contextual Factors.

Topics: Major depressive disorder, Adolescence, Bipolar disorder Pages: 7 (2284 words) Published: June 24, 2013

Discuss problems related to identifying/diagnosing and the assessment of depression in adolescents taking into account gender and contextual factors.


2.Definition of terms used
3.Epidemiology of depression in adolescents
4.Major Depressive Disorder: Assessment and Diagnosis
4.1Clinical presentation of symptoms as per the DSM IV (Adults) 4.2Clinical presentation of symptoms in children and adolescents not part of DSM IV 4.3Difficulties in assessing and diagnosing depression in adolescents 5.Risk Factors for Depression in Adolescents

5.1Gender: Boys vs Girls
5.2Contextual risk factors

As with the ‘terrible twos’, adolescence is a period in their child’s life that many parents dread. This can be a stressful time in a young person’s life and the emotional turbulence can impact on everyone around them. This is also a time when depression can easily be overlooked, as sudden behavioural changes are put down to adolescent moodiness, and behavioural problems are written off to the child being a difficult teenager, a ‘hormone hostage’. It is unrealistic to expect that a child entering puberty and who has to adjust to the physical, emotional, biological and social changes suddenly thrust on them, will automatically have the coping skills, vocabulary and self-knowledge to navigate this period in their lives successfully. Adolescent depression is an under-researched area of psychology and successful diagnosis is more dependent on the skill of the counsellor or psychologist than on available literature and agreed upon criteria. In this essay, the student will attempt to identify the problems related to identifying, diagnosing and making assessment of depression in adolescence as well as addressing the risk factors associated with gender and contextual influences.

2.Definitions of terms used
Adolescence is defined as “the period of development from the onset of puberty to the attainment of adulthood, beginning with the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics, usually between 11 and 13 years of age, continuing through the teenage years, and terminating legally at the age of majority, usually 18 years” (Coleman, 2009) Adolescent refers to the person in the stage of adolescence Puberty is the stage of development at the beginning of adolescence when the glands that secrete sex hormones mature and secondary sexual characteristics appear (Coleman, 2009).

3.Epidemiology of depression in adolescents
Major Depressive Disorder is one of the most frequent disorders affecting adolescents, with higher prevalence during mid-late adolescence. According to Mash & Wolfe (2010) there is a 3% prevalence among 14 – 18 year olds at a single point in time. Statistics taken over a year long period reveal a prevalence rate of 8%. As the symptoms displayed by depressed adolescents differ from the criteria listed in the DSM, this figure may be higher. Not only are potential depression cases missed because of misdiagnosis but adolescents who do display some of the symptoms listed, but fall short of the diagnostic criteria of the DSM and are not treated for depression, have a greater risk of developing depression and substance abuse disorders in the future (Gotlieb & Lewinson cited in Mash et al). Adolescence is a period of major biological and social adjustment. According to the World Health Organisation, Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans aged 15 – 44 years of age. Adolescents who have been clinically diagnosed with depression have a 90% comorbidity rate for one or more other disorders and 50% of depressed adolescents may have two (Mash et al). The most common of these is anxiety disorder. Adolescents who have been diagnosed with depression have a 60% chance of having a comorbid personality disorder,...

References: 1. Burwell, R.A., & Shirk, S.R. (2006). Self-processes in adolescent depression: The role of self-worth contingencies. Journal of Research in Adolescence, 16(3), 179-490.
2. Costello, E.J., Erkanli, A., & Angold, A., (2006). Is there an epidemic of child or adolescent depression? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(12), 1263-1271.
3. Colman, A.M. (2009). Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
4. Crowe, M., Ward, N., Dunnachie, B., & Roberts, M. (2006). Characteristics of adolescent depression. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 15, 10-18.
6. Mash, E.J., & Wolfe, D.A. (2010). Abnormal child psychology (4th ed.). Belmong: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
7. Marano, H.E. (2003). More women suffer depression. Psychology Today, July 1, 2003. Retrieved on May 6, 2013, from
8. Page, R.M., & Hall, C.P
9. Son, E.S. & Kirchner, J.T. (2000). Depression in children and adolescents. American Family Physician, 62(10), 2297-2308. Retrieved April 14, 2013, from
10. American Accreditation Healthcare Commission
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