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Hispanic adolescent females may have increased depression risk.

WASHINGTON -- Variables that affect the development of major depressive disorder among adolescent Hispanic girls reflect those found in the general adolescent population, Alinne Z. Barrera said at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Previous studies have shown that major depressive disorder (MDD) is on the rise among adolescents and that depressed adolescents are at increased risk for developing MDD as adults, said Ms. Barrera, a Ph.D. candidate who is now a clinical psychology fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.

"We don't know as much about depression in Latino adolescents, compared with the general population," she said. "Of the studies that have included Latinos, the incidence of depression seems to be about 22%." Adolescent Latinos may be at increased risk of depression because of high self-reported levels of depressive and anxiety symptomatology, she noted.

She and her associates at the University of Colorado, Boulder, conducted a study of 43 adolescent Latinas. The girls were about 17 years old; half were Mexican born, and half were American born.

The girls completed a series of self-report measures, including the Beck Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory II, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale, Attributional Style Questionnaire, and Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans II. A semistructured clinical interview was conducted at baseline and at follow-up visits to assess the onset and recurrence of major depressive episodes and other axis I disorders.

Ms. Barrera explained that the investigators' goal was "to understand whether elevated levels of depressive symptomatology correlated with higher rates of MDD in this population."

A total of 18 girls (42%) said they had experienced a depressive episode at the baseline interview, and 5 girls were in the midst of a depressive episode--which meant that they met the criteria for a major depressive episode within a month of the study's start date.

Depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms predicted a higher number of DSM-IV MDD diagnostic criteria after accounting for anxiety and depressive symptomatology, respectively, at the baseline assessment. When the investigators controlled for Mexican cultural orientation, they found that a lower level of American cultural affiliation was a marginal predictor of a diagnosis of MDD. None of the other cultural variables were statistically significant.

The researchers also created a cultural context qualitative interview to get some qualitative data on how the girls thought about depression, what it meant to them, and how they thought their cultural background influenced their high school experiences. Although the girls reported a high number of depressive symptoms, being Mexican American or Hispanic was perceived as a positive attribute in this group.

A limitation of the study is that the girls lived in a predominantly Mexican American community.

The results support those of previous studies, which have shown that the acculturative process may be related to higher rates of depressive symptomatology. Clinicians who treat adolescent Hispanic girls should remember that mental health education is an important component of care and can help form a strong therapeutic relationship in a population that underuses mental health services, Ms. Barrera said in an interview.

Also, physicians should remember to ask patients if they are using herbal or traditional remedies for mental health, she added.

BY HEIDI SPLETE

Senior Writer
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Title Annotation:Adolescent Health
Author:Splete, Heidi
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Article Type:Clinical report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Words:535
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