Epidemiology

The prevalence rates of childhood depression vary somewhat, depending on the sample and period assessed. A meta-analysis of 26 epidemiological studies (over 60,000 observations on children born between 1965 and 1996) found an estimated prevalence rate of depressive disorder among children under 13 years to be 2.8% and among children between 13 and 18 years to be 5.6%.[2] Among these epidemiological studies, one study surveyed 1420 children aged 9 to 13 years from North Carolina and found a 3-month prevalence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV depressive disorders (major depressive disorder and dysthymia) to be 0.9 in children and 3.1 in adolescents.[3] Rates are similar in boys and girls, but depression becomes twice as common in adolescent girls compared with adolescent boys, which is consistent with sex ratios in adult depression.[4] The cumulative prevalence, or lifetime prevalence rate, of major depression by the end of adolescence is much higher than in earlier childhood (up to 25%).[5] Although there have been reports of increased secular trends of the prevalence of depression in clinical samples, there is no evidence that the rates of depressive disorder among children have increased in the general population for the past 30 years.[2] Depressive disorders may be higher in indigenous children,[6] and in children with chronic medical illness.[7]

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