Depressive Symptoms In Youth With Physical Illness During The Transition From Adolescence To Young Adulthood

Cross-sectional studies have shown that youth with a chronic health condition compared to their healthy peers have twice the risk of developing mental health problems. However, there is a paucity of information describing the trajectories of these problems and how their determinants change over time, particularly as youth transition to young adulthood. It is important that the influences and developmental course of depressive symptoms are understood so that priorities for intervening can be based on salient risk factors.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, the objectives of this study were to:

  • Delineate trajectories of depressive symptoms comparing youth with and without physical illness during the years of transition from adolescence (12-13 years) to young adulthood (24-25 years)
  • Investigate influence of symptoms of anxiety and emotional disorder, maternal depressive symptoms, and family functioning experienced in late childhood (10-11 years) on trajectories of depressive symptoms
  • Examine the potential mediating and moderating effect of supportive social relationships and self-esteem during transition on trajectories of depressive symptoms

The results of this study can help clinicians and policy makers better understand the natural history of comorbid depression in youth with a chronic health condition. This study will increase our understanding of depression by incorporating individual, family, and social experiences and will facilitate patient and family education and counseling. It will also identify subgroups of youth by specific trajectories of depressive symptoms; in turn, leading to improved study design and analysis of observational data.

This study is funded by Hamilton Health Sciences.