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Original Research

Impact of Depression on Anxiety, Well-being, and Suicidality in Mexican Adolescent and Young Adult Students From Mexico City: A Mental Health Screening Using Smartphones

Ismael Martínez-Nicolás, PhDa,; Pavel E. Arenas Castañeda, MDb,; Cristian Antonio Molina-Pizarro, MDc; Arsenio Rosado Franco, MDc; Cynthya Maya-Hernández, PhDd; Igor Barahona, PhDe; Gonzalo Martínez-Alés, MD, PhDf; Fuensanta Aroca Bisquert, PhDe,g; Enrique Baca-García, MD, PhDh,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,*; and María Luisa Barrigón, MD, PhDh,i

Published: April 6, 2022


Background: Depression, anxiety, well-being, and suicidality are highly associated during adolescence and greatly predict mental health outcomes during adulthood. This study explored relationships between these variables among students from Mexico City.

Methods: This representative cross-sectional study was carried out in education centers in Mexico City during the 2019–2020 academic year. Using a smartphone app, we implemented validated questionnaires for depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7), well-being (World Health Organization 5 Well-Being Index), and risk of suicide (Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale). Partial least squares structural equation modeling was performed for the entire sample and after stratifying by gender.

Results: Out of 3,042 students, 1,686 were females; mean age of the sample was 17.3 years. Compared to males, females had higher levels of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation and lower levels of self-perceived well-being. Structural equation models indicated that depression was the main predictor of the rest of the outcomes in the overall sample. The role of anxiety was heterogeneous across genders and not clearly correlated to suicidal behavior or well-being.

Conclusions: Large-scale mental health screening using an online tool proved feasible, with high response rates. Depression was the most important factor influencing anxiety, suicidal behavior, and well-being in Mexican high school students. The roles of depression and anxiety were heterogeneous across genders.

Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT04067076

Volume: 83

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