Kids and Depression…What Does the Data Say?

ID-100105041This is Part Three in our Winter 2013 blog series Understanding Depression in Kids and Teens…A Primer for Pastors, Church Staff and Christian Parents. Today, we’ll look at the research data describing the impact of depressive disorders on children and teens.

Depression by gender, age

  • In prepubescent children, rates of depression are roughly equal in boys and girls. During adolescence, the prevalence of depression explodes…teens are four times more likely to experience depression when compared to school-age children, and adolescent girls are roughly twice as likely to meet criteria for a major depressive episode compared to boys.
  • Roughly one out of nine children and teens in the U.S. will experience depression by the time they turn eighteen. Another 5-10% of teens will experience an extended period of depressed mood that falls short of meeting the full criteria diagnostic criteria for major depression. The prevalence of depression in youth peaks at age 16.

Depression lifetime prevalence

Prevalence of depression ages 12-17

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) examines the national prevalence of depression each year through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Recent surveys have suggested that the prevalence of depression in teens has been relatively stable…at any given point in time, approximately 8% of U.S. kids between the ages of 12-17 are experiencing symptoms of depression.
  • Each successive generation since 1940 has been demonstrated to be at increased risk of developing depression, and with each successive generation, the onset of symptoms of depression occurs at an earlier age.
  • Depending upon the source of referral, anywhere from 40-90% of children and youth with depression meet criteria for at least one other psychiatric disorder, and according to some reports, 50% meet criteria for two or more psychiatric disorders in addition to depression.
  • The mean duration of a depressive episode among kids referred for treatment is eight months, while the mean duration of all depressive episodes among kids in the community ranges from one to two months.
  • 70% of children and teens with depression will experience a recurrence of symptoms within five years of their first episode.
  • Kids with greater genetic susceptibility to depression also appear to be more sensitive to adverse environmental effects.
  • Suicidal thinking and behavior is very common among youth with depression. Approximately 60% of teens diagnosed with depression will experience thoughts of suicide…30% have made one or more suicide attempts.

Photos courtesy of

Graphics from the National Institute of Mental Health

Today’s recommended resource…Many of the statistics quoted in this post were derived from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Practice Parameter for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Depressive Disorders. The Practice Parameter is an excellent summation of the current standard of care for the treatment of children and teens with depression and also provides a comprehensive review of research findings that support current practices.


Key CatalogOur Key Ministry team is very much in need of your support if we are to continue to provide free training, consultation and resources to churches. Please consider either an online donation or a sponsorship from the Key Catalog. You can sponsor anything from an on-site consultation at a local church, the addition of a new site for church-based respite care, to a “JAM Session” to help multiple churches launch special needs ministries in your metropolitan area. Click the icon on the left to explore the Key Catalog!

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
This entry was posted in Depression, Key Ministry, Mental Health, Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Kids and Depression…What Does the Data Say?

  1. Dr. Grcevich and Rebecca,

    Friends such as Mr. (Rev) John and Mrs. Anne Holmes of Restoration Church encouraged me to contact you. I worked for 10 years with Joni Eareckson Tada and now minister with world evangelist Nick Vujicic of LIfe Without Limbs.

    It is thought that my new book – The Lost Mandate (Father’s Press) – would be a encouragement and effective tool for parents affected by disabilities and their churches and pastors.

    Joni Eareckson Tada has written the foreword and Nick Vujici has contributed vignettes in between each chapter. The book is on the Luke 14:12-24 Mandate and Christ’s clarion call to the Church to respond to this mandate.

    Joni in her foreword summarized, “Who should read this book? Pastors, disability ministry workers, and seminary and Bible college professors…we must mobilize the body of Christ to become part of the movement to advance Christ’s Gospel into the darkest corners of the world… corners where people with disabilities are suffering from abuse, neglect, and hopelessness for the lack of hearing the Good News. The book you hold in your hands will strike a match in your heart and ignite a passion to carry out the Luke 14 mandate here and abroad.”

    Professor Jeff McNair explained, “ In The Lost Mandate, Dan’l Markham combines a clear eyed understanding of the Bible with a frank relating of personal experience. Readers will walk away from the book having had the chance to meet an authentic Christian endeavoring to understand his life experience through the lens of Biblical perspective. You will agree and disagree. You will question and wonder. In the end you will have thought deeply about what it means to be “real” in one’s walk with God.”

    You can go to this link on Amazon and get a free sneak preview of the book cover, contents, endorsements, Joni’s foreword, the first two chapters and Nick Vujicic’s first two vignettes. Joni’s foreword, the endorsements and the contents will give you a good idea on how helpful this book could be to your ministry and your constituents – . The e-book version as see is very affordable.

    If you are interested in reviewing the book I can provide a print copy or purchase the electronic version for you.


    Pastor Dan’l C. Markham


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.