Teen Depression Study

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It is a puzzle many mental health professionals are working to solve: What comes first in teenagers — depression or risky behavior? The findings of a new study show the two certainly go hand-in-hand, but depressed teens may not be using drugs to self-medicate. In fact drug use and sex may actually be causing depression in a large number of teens.

Denise Hallfors is a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and the study’s author. Hallfors says her findings show that in a majority of depressed teens their depression came about because of drug use and sexual experimentation. The study also shows that girls are much more likely to become depressed than boys. Hallfors spoke with WBHM’s Rosemary Pennington as part of our yearlong series, “Making Sense of Mental Health”.

The study was published in October’s edition of the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine”.

Editor’s note: This is our latest piece in a year-long commitment to covering mental health issues in Alabama. You can learn more about our “Making Sense of Mental Health” project and find local mental health resources — as our commitment continues throughout the year — inside this website.