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Clinical Characteristics of Depressive Symptoms in Children and Adolescents With Major Depressive Disorder.[CME]

J Clin Psychiatry 2004;65(12):1654-1659

Objective: Very few studies have compared the symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) and rates of comorbid psychiatric disorders between depressed children and adolescents. The aim of this study was to reproduce and extend these findings.

Method: The Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia, present version (KSADS-P) was administered to parents (about their children) and in face-to-face interviews with 916 subjects aged 5.6 to 17.9 years with MDD (DSM criteria) (715 adolescents and 201 children; 348 male and 568 female). The subjects were consecutive referrals to an outpatient mood and anxiety disorders clinic.

Results: Depressed adolescents had significantly more hopelessness/helplessness, lack of energy/tiredness, hypersomnia, weight loss, and suicidality compared with children (p values <= .001). In comparison with children, adolescents had significantly more substance abuse and less comorbid separation anxiety disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (p values <= .001). Depressed female adolescents had significantly more suicidality than depressed male adolescents (p <= .001). There were no other sex differences between males and females. The symptoms of depressed adolescents grouped into 3 factors (endogenous, negative cognitions/suicidality, and appetite/weight), whereas the symptoms in children grouped into 2 factors (endogenous/negative cognitions/suicidality and appetite/weight).

Conclusions: These results provide further evidence for the continuity of MDD from childhood to adolescence.