Studies Give New Insight on the Development of Mental Illness in Adolescents

Adolescence is often associated with the sometimes awkward transition between childhood and adulthood, with insecurity reigning over life’s events. Kids entering adolescence are dealing with not only physical changes, but also the less obvious emotional and mental developmental milestones.

Adolescence is a significant time for mental health. In about half of all cases, the development of a mental disorder begins before the age of 14. As reported in Medical News Today, three recent studies provide insight into the factors involved in the development of mental disorders in adolescence.

The studies, which can be found in recent issues of the journals published by the Association for Psychological Science, Psychological Science and Clinical Psychological Science, provide new information about how mental disorders develop in adolescence.

The first, led by Kenneth A. Dodge and colleagues, shows that preventive strategies designed for intervention in adolescent antisocial behaviors may be mediated by social information processing patterns. The study focuses on Fast Track, an intervention created to help kids who display aggression at an early age. The adolescents participate in several social groups and are offered social skill training.

The study involved 891 kindergarten pupils who were offered either the Fast Track program or a control program. Those who participated in Fast Track were shown to have lower levels of antisocial behavior in high school, which was at least partly the result of improvements measured in three social-cognitive processes.

The second study was led by Gregory T. Smith and compared two models of urgency. It found that urgency was a predictor of both rash action and depression when examined among young people. In previous studies, Smith and colleagues had identified a link between urgency in fifth grade and addictive behaviors the following school year, a finding that is consistent with both theories about urgency.

The findings showed that urgency was a predictor of both rash-action or ill-advised inaction. The same urgency that causes individuals to act rashly can also cause them to make choices that are consistent with depression. The findings indicate that urgency may be an important indicator in the diagnosis of several separate mental health disorders.

In the third study, Mollie N. Moore and colleagues examined the role of rumination, distraction, and depressed mood among adolescents, determining the role that genetic and environmental factors played.

The study involved 756 adolescent twins between the ages of 12 and 14, who were administered the Response Styles Questionnaire to measure symptoms of depression. The researchers found that brooding was associated with depressive symptoms while distraction was negatively associated with depression.

Approximately 54 percent of the variation in depression symptoms could be explained by a genetic variation. In addition, 37 percent of the variation measured in reflection and 30 percent of the variation measured in distraction were due to genetic variation. The results suggest that the same genetic influence may be present in distraction and protect an individual from the development of depression.

The findings of the three studies provide new information about the development and risk factors involved in the mental disorders that can appear during adolescence

Posted on July 20th, 2013
Posted in Mental Health

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