Depression in childhood and adolescence

Research on adolescent depression focuses on two key areas:  (i) understanding the female excess in depression that emerges during adolescence; and (ii) identifying risk factors for adolescent depression.

Girls experience a rise in rates of depression and depressive symptoms in early adolescence, and by the mid-teens are twice as likely to experience an episode of depression compared with boys.  Research conducted within the Centre has identified that girls who experience earlier onset menarche and more advanced pubertal development than their peers are at greater risk of developing depressive symptoms in adolescence.  Ongoing research is examining whether timing of menarche is a causal risk factor for depression in adolescence.

Other work focuses on the role of individual factors in childhood (e.g. early temperament), family environmental factors (e.g. parenting, maternal depression) and childhood adversities (low socioeconomic status, father absence, bullying) in the aetiology of adolescent depression, as well as understanding the role of modifiable risk factors (such as physical activity and obesity) that may inform prevention strategies.

Academics working in this area include: Carol Joinson, Iryna Culpin and Nicholas Turner (PhD student). 

Selected current and recent grants

  • Turner N. Modifiable risk factors for depression in adolescence: understanding the causal role of physical activity and obesity and physical activity. NIHR Doctoral Fellowship £261,782 (2014-2017).
  • Joinson C Depression at 17: ALSPAC. The Wellcome Trust.  £648,184  (2008 – 2013) (PI: Lewis G) (Co-applicant & Lead: Adversity strand).
  • Joinson C, Heron J, Lewis G Developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms from late childhood to early adolescence: impact of gender, puberty and adversity. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). £98,490 (2008 – 2009).

Selected publications

  • Joinson C, Kounali D, Lewis G. Family socioeconomic position in early life and onset of depressive symptoms and depression: a prospective cohort study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2017;52(1):95-103.
  • Sequeira ME, Lewis SJ, Bonilla C, Davey Smith G, Joinson C. The association of timing of menarche with depressive symptoms and depression in adolescence: a Mendelian randomisation study. Br J Psychiatry. 2017;210(1):39-46. 
  • Scourfield J, Culpin I, Gunnell D, Dale C, Joinson C, Heron J, Collin SM. The association between characteristics of fathering in infancy and depressive symptoms in adolescence: a UK birth cohort study. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2016;58:119-28.
  • Bowes L, Joinson C,Wolke D, Lewis G. Peer victimisation during adolescence and its impact on early adulthood depression. A prospective cohort study in the United Kingdom. BMJ, 2015;350:h2469.                                 
  • Culpin I, Stapinski L, Miles O, Araya R, Joinson C.Exposure to socioeconomic adversity in early life and risk of depression at 18 years: mediating role of locus of control. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2015;183:269-278.      
  • Turner N, Joinson C, Peters T, Wiles N, Lewis G. Validity of the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire in young adults. Psychological Assessment, 2014. 26(3), 752-762.
  • Culpin I, Heron J, Araya R, Joinson C. Father absence and timing of menarche in adolescent girls from a UK cohort: the mediating role of maternal depression and major financial problems. Journal of Adolescence. 2014. 37(3):291-301.
  • Culpin IHeron J, Araya R, Joinson C. Early childhood father absence and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls from a UK cohort: the mediating role of early menarche. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 2015 Jul;43(5):921-31.
  • Joinson C, Heron J., Araya R, Lewis G.Early menarche and depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood in a UK cohort.  Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2013. 52(6):591-598.
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