Kids with moderate to severe symptoms of depression in childhood may be more likely to turn to alcohol in adolescence, according to researchers.
Between 2000 and 2004, the researchers surveyed 1,119 10- to 13-year-olds and their parents about the child's past and present alcohol use (at the start of the study, none of the children had ever used alcohol). The kids also completed interviews to assess symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and substance abuse. They also answered questions about their parents' discipline and monitoring of their activities.
A year or more after the start of the study, nearly 10% of kids reported using alcohol. The rate of alcohol use differed significantly, depending on the level of depression symptoms at the start of the study. Among kids who had one or no depression symptoms, about 4% had used alcohol. Of those who reported two to nine depression symptoms, 10% had used alcohol. And in kids with 10 or more depression symptoms, 14% had used alcohol.
Kids who were exposed to violence, who displayed antisocial behavior, and who were "thrill seekers" also appeared predisposed to alcohol use. However, those whose parents closely monitored their behaviors and activities appeared to be relatively protected from alcohol use in early adolescence.
What This Means to You
The results of this study indicate that kids who experience depression symptoms in childhood may be more likely to begin using alcohol in adolescence. Other research has shown that early alcohol use is linked to alcohol dependence and addiction later in life. At home, discuss the risks of alcohol use and abuse with kids well before adolescence, and teach a variety of strategies for refusing alcohol if it's offered. In addition, if your child experiences symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness or hopelessness, extreme irritability or restlessness, or changes in eating or sleeping habits, talk to your doctor.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: November 2006
Source: Ping Wu, PhD; Hector R. Bird, MD; Xinhua Liu, PhD; Bin Fan, MD; Cordelia Fuller, MA; Sa Shen, PhD; Cristiane S. Duarte, PhD; Glorisa J. Canino, PhD; Pediatrics, November 2006.