Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
Depression during the Transition to High School among Minority Adolescents
(School of Public Health (UMD) Epidemiology and Biostatistics Master's Student)
BACKGROUND: Adolescent depression coincides with normative developmental transitions in the biological, cognitive, affective, and social domains. The average age at onset for the first depressive episode in high school is 14.9 years, the typical age of a high school freshman. However, despite the significant social changes that occur during the transition from middle school to high school, very few studies have investigated the psychological effects of this transition on adolescents, particularly minorities. OBJECTIVE: To examine the change in depressive symptoms during the transition to high school among minority adolescents. METHODS: Data are from Wave I and Wave II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), which follows a nationally representative cohort of adolescents in grades 7 through 12 into adulthood. Depressive symptoms are measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D). Weighted multivariable linear regression is used to predict the change in depressive symptoms from eighth grade to ninth grade, while controlling for age, gender, family structure, family socioeconomic status, depression at Wave I, and the time-lapse between interviews. RESULTS: There was an increase in depressive symptoms during the transition to high school, especially among females (M = 1.03, SE = 0.367) and adolescents who were 14 years old during Wave I (M = 1.15, SE = 0.233). Compared to non-Hispanic White adolescents, non-Hispanic Black (M = 1.29, SE = 0.441) and biracial/multiracial (M = 2.29, SE = 1.63) adolescents had a greater increase in depressive symptoms. However, only non-Hispanic Black adolescents experienced a statistically significant increase in depressive symptoms when adjusting for confounding variables (β = 1.39, p <.005). CONCLUSION: The transition from eighth grade to ninth grade is a very difficult period in normative development, especially for non-Hispanic Black and biracial/multiracial adolescents. More research is needed to understand depression among biracial/multiracial populations.
Importance to public health: