Predicting Behavior: Depression in adolescent girls

It is sometimes essential that we be able to correlate behaviors that may relate to mental illness. Research points to early intervention as being an important predictor of recovery. If we can correlate one set of mental health symptoms with something that occurs early in life, and if that correlation holds true, we can better predict who will need mental health care and get services to them in a timely manner.

A recent study in the Journal of Early Adolescence points to a correlation between antisocial behavior in young girls and depression in adolescents. This is based on a University of Washington study starting with first and second graders and following them for 7 years.

Antisocial behavior is most commonly seen as a problem in boys, but this study found that antisocial behavior and anxiety were predictors of depression in early adolescence. The researchers note that more girls than boys suffer from adolescent depression.

This all leads me to question: are the minds of children and adolescents well-formed enough to apply an adult disorder to their mind. This is a serious question, I’m not doing one of those rhetorical questions to try to show that psychiatry is misguided, etc. If we were to diagnose depression in a 10-year-old girl, just as an example, on what criteria do we base this decision? Is the DSM adequate, considering the mental abilities and emotional state of a teenager?

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