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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • prevalence;
  • correlate;
  • service;
  • children

Background

To date, no one-phase survey of childhood depression has been performed in China that involves both urban and rural community children. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence, correlates, and mental health service utilization of depressive disorders (DDs) in a community-based sample of 6–14-year-old children in south-central China.

Methods

Children (3,582) were approached through multistage sampling and interviewed using a Chinese version of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview for Children and Adolescents 5.0, which is a structured interview that is administered by trained psychiatrists to obtain information from children and their guardians.

Results

The overall prevalence of all current DDs was found to be 2.8% (95%CI: 1.5–3.9). The risk factors for depression included being 9–14-year old, not attending school, having unmarried parents, living in a nonnuclear family (single parent or parentless family), being taken care of by people other than two parents (single parent, grandparent(s), other relatives, or others) during the past year, and not being breastfed prior to 1 year of age. Only 5.8% of the depressed children had received professional help prior to the interview.

Conclusions

The prevalence of DDs among children in this part of China is relatively high compared with most figures reported in other countries. Depression in this age group has been a major public health concern, but it is often underrecognized. There is an urgent need to develop efficacious interventions aimed at the prevention and early recognition of childhood depression.