Trends in psychopathology across the adolescent years: What changes when children become adolescents, and when adolescents become adults?

Authors

  • E. Jane Costello,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Developmental Epidemiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
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  • William Copeland,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Developmental Epidemiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
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  • Adrian Angold

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Developmental Epidemiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
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  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

  • Work on this article was funded in part by R21 MH083964 from the National Institute of Mental Health, and U01 DA024413 R01 and R01 DA022308 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Abstract

Background:  Little is known about changes in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders between childhood and adolescence, and adolescence and adulthood.

Methods:  We reviewed papers reporting prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders separately for childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Both longitudinal and cross-sectional papers published in the past 15 years were included.

Results:  About one adolescent in five has a psychiatric disorder. From childhood to adolescence there is an increase in rates of depression, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and substance use disorders (SUD), and a decrease in separation anxiety disorder (SAD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). From adolescence to early adulthood there is a further increase in panic disorder, agoraphobia, and SUD, and a further decrease in SAD and ADHD. Other phobias and disruptive behavior disorders also fall.

Conclusions:  Further study of changes in rates of disorder across developmental stages could inform etiological research and guide interventions.

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