Depression Among Teens

Female, and Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Students were much more likely to report experiencing symptoms of depression than the King County average.

 

In a survey of Washington public school students, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders were asked about whether, at any time in the past year, they had felt so sad or helpless almost every day for at least two weeks in a row that they stopped doing some normal activities. Having these feelings consistently is an indication of having symptoms of depression. Combining responses from 2014 and 2016, 30% of students in King County reported experiencing these symptoms in the past year.

  • Gender: At 37%, female students were more likely than male students (22%) to report depression.

  • Sexual orientation: At 57%, lesbian, gay, and bisexual students were almost twice as likely to report depressive symptoms than the county average. Students who responded that they were “not sure” of their sexual orientation were also more likely than students in King County overall to report depressive symptoms, at 38%.  

  • Place: South Region students were most likely to report symptoms of depression at 33%, which was elevated above each of the other regions. Seattle, North and East region student depression rates ranged from 27% to 29%.

  • Grade level: The percent of students reporting symptoms of depression increased as grade progressed from 25% of 8th graders to 33% of 12th graders.

  • Race and ethnicity: Many students of color, including American Indian/Alaska Native (35%), Latino (36%), Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (35%), and Multiple Race (34%) students were more likely to report symptoms of depression. However, Asian students (27%) were less likely than students in King County overall to report symptoms of depression. The rates of depression in Black students (29%), students who identified as Other Race (32%), and White students (28%) were close to the King County average.

  • Trends: Rates of teen depression increased countywide between 2004 and 2016.  The increase in recent years--between 2008 (24%) and 2016 (30%)—was responsible for the overall upward trend. An unusually high rate in 2004 may have been a chance finding. Also, of all the regions, only South County showed this increasing trend.

 

Notes and Sources

Source: Healthy Youth Survey (2012-2016)

Numerator: Students who responded "Yes" to the question "During the past 12 months, did you ever feel so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that you stopped doing some usual activities?”

Denominator: All students who answered the question.

Every 2 years, Washington public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. To learn more about the survey, please go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/HealthyYouthSurvey.


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