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Detailed course of depressive symptoms and risk for developing depression in late adolescents with subthreshold depression: a cohort study

Authors Jinnin R, Okamoto Y, Takagaki K, Nishiyama Y, Yamamura T, Okamoto Y, Miyake Y, Takebayashi Y, Tanaka K, Sugiura Y, Shimoda H, Kawakami N, Furukawa TA, Yamawaki S

Received 21 July 2016

Accepted for publication 9 September 2016

Published 22 December 2016 Volume 2017:13 Pages 25—33

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S117846

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Taro Kishi


Ran Jinnin,1 Yasumasa Okamoto,1 Koki Takagaki,1 Yoshiko Nishiyama,1 Takanao Yamamura,1 Yuri Okamoto,2 Yoshie Miyake,2 Yoshitake Takebayashi,3 Keisuke Tanaka,4 Yoshinori Sugiura,5 Haruki Shimoda,6 Norito Kawakami,6 Toshi A Furukawa,7 Shigeto Yamawaki1

1Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, 2Health Service Center, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan; 3Risk Analysis Research Center, The Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Tokyo, Japan; 4Graduated School of Education, Joetsu University of Education, Niigata, Japan; 5Graduated School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan; 6Department of Mental Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan; 7Department of Health Promotion and Human Behavior, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine/School of Public Health, Kyoto, Japan


Purpose: Despite its clinical importance, adolescent subthreshold depression remains a largely neglected topic. The aims of this study were to accurately identify the natural course of depressive symptoms and the risk for developing major depressive episode (MDE) in late adolescents with subthreshold depression over 1 year.
Patients and methods: One hundred and seventy-two participants <20 years of age (mean age: 18.32 years, standard deviation: 0.50), who did not meet the full criteria for an MDE, were selected from 2,494 screened freshmen based on the Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd edition (BDI-II). We conducted a cohort study of three groups (low-, middle-, and high-symptom groups) divided based on BDI-II scores, over a 1 year period with the use of bimonthly assessments. Temporal changes of depressive symptoms were analyzed using linear mixed modeling and growth mixture modeling.
Results: First, we found that late adolescents with subthreshold depression (high depressive symptoms) were split between the increasing and decreasing depressive symptoms groups, whereas the majority of the less-symptoms group remained stable during 1 year. Second, in comparison with late adolescents with less depressive symptoms, those with subthreshold depression had an elevated risk of later depression.
Conclusion: Some late adolescents with subthreshold depression had increased depressive symptoms and developed an MDE during 1 year. Therefore, it is necessary for us to rigorously assess the changes in subthreshold depressive symptoms over time in late adolescents.

Keywords: adolescence, subthreshold depression, major depressive episode, university student, cohort study

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