Psychological medicine

When should I worry about the sad or anxious adolescent patient?

Philip Hazell



Each year about 5% of adolescents will experience a clinically significant level of depression, and a larger percentage will experience problems of anxiety. Here are some useful tips on assessing and managing young patients with these conditions.

Article Extract

  • Rates of anxiety remain relatively constant throughout childhood and adolescence, but there is a notable increase in depression in the mid-teens. In addition, during the teen years depression becomes more common in girls than boys, suggesting that neurobiological changes during this period may be linked to the causes of the disorder.
  • Severe and incapacitating depression is relatively rare in adolescents. Mild to moderate depression is more common, typically has a gradual onset and may persist for months or years (see the box on this page for definitions of severity).