One in four 14-year-old girls are depressed, research finds

Almost one in four girls and one in ten boys aged 14 are depressed, researchers have found.

Almost one in four girls and one in ten boys aged 14 are depressed, researchers have found.

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Despite what the authors called 'worryingly high rates of depression' among young people they questioned whether parents knew the true extent of levels of depression among teenage girls, after finding a discrepancy between self-reported depressive symptoms and the views of parents.

Researchers from the UCL (University College London) Institute of Education and the University of Liverpool examined data on more than 10,000 children born in 2000-01 who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study.

Parents were questioned about their child's mental health when they were aged three, five, seven, 11 and 14.

Parents’ perceptions

When the participants reached the age of 14 the children were themselves asked about mental health problems.

The research, published in cooperation with the charity the National Children's Bureau, showed that girls and boys had similar levels of emotional problems throughout childhood until adolescence, when problems became more prevalent in girls.

Based on the responses, the researchers calculated that almost a quarter of girls and one in 10 boys aged 14 have depression.

But the teenagers' responses about their emotional problems were different from their parents’ perceptions, the authors said.

Previous generations

They found that parents identify more boys and fewer girls with depressive symptoms. This may mean some parents are unaware of their daughter's depression, they said.

They also found that boys of all ages have worse behavioural problems than girls. Children from better off families were less likely to report depression compared with those from poorer homes.

'In other research, we've highlighted the increasing mental health difficulties faced by girls today compared with previous generations, and this study further highlights the worryingly high rates of depression,' said lead author Praveetha Patalay.

Offering solutions

NHS England national mental health director and nurse Claire Murdoch said: 'NHS services for children and young people are expanding at their fastest rate in a decade.

'This year, the NHS will treat an additional 30,000 children and young people, supported by an additional £280 million of funding.

'The report demonstrates how critical it is that all services – schools, youth services as well as the NHS – play their part in spotting problems early, and offering solutions.'

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