Teen stress doubles depression risk in adult life

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LONDON - Stressed teenagers could face double the risk of developing depression in early adulthood, say experts.

The pressures of modern life may be more hazardous to our mental health than previously believed after scientists found there may be a link between the recent rise in mood disorders and the increase of daily stress.

Mark Ellenbogen, a professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, said: “Major depression has become one of the most pressing health issues in both developing and developed countries.”

He believes stress is a major contributor to the rise in depression, a growing public health problem that the World Health Organisation identified as affecting about 121 million people.

His team is evaluating the stress of children living in families where at least one parent is affected by a mood disorder, reports the Telegraph.

They measured the levels of cortisol in their saliva and children from at-risk families have higher cortisol levels and it seems to persist into adulthood, according to a Concordia University statement.

Ellenbogen said: “Although there may be many causes to the rise in cortisol, this increase may be in part due to exposure to family stress and parenting style.

“Cortisol is something you secrete when faced with situations that are hard to deal with or challenging situations beyond your ability to cope,” he added.

The study looks at offspring of parents who have a bipolar disorder but who do not have mental health issues themselves. It is already known from previous studies that such offspring are at higher risk of developing depression and bipolar disorders.

The team has been following 150 children age four to 12 for a decade, half with parents without mental health issues, the other half with at least one parent with bipolar disorder.

Filed under: Medicine, Mental Health, World

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