Adolescents with Depression Followed up Prognostic Significance of Somatic Symptoms and Their Need of In-Patient Care

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: A dualist approach that distinguishes between mind and body is still the norm in Western medicine. Although we now know that physical and mental health are related in adults, little is known about if, or with what mechanisms, mental illnesses or depression early in life, will affect future physical and psychological health. In-between mental and somatic disorders there are somatic symptoms without medical explanation. These are symptoms that cause much suffering and impairment which are costly for society. Still little is known what they are, how they should be treated and what consequences they have for adolescents when they grow up. This study aims to investigate the long-term relationship between mental and somatic disease and the outcome of adolescents with functional somatic symptoms.The thesis is based on a 15-year follow-up study of a population-based investigation of adolescent depression. In 1991–1993 first year students in upper secondary school (age 16–17) in Uppsala, Sweden, were screened for depression (n=2300). Adolescents with positive screening and selected peers with negative screening (n=631) were assessed regarding mental health and somatic symptoms. At around age 31, the participants were followed-up in personal interviews (n=369) and national registers (n=609). Outcomes regarding mental DSM-IV diagnosis, in-patient ICD-10 disease diagnosis from the patient register, and blood vessel wall thickness were assessed.The most important finding is the unexpected poor short and long-term outcome in adolescents with somatic symptoms. The result proves the need for better treatment. The strong prediction of functional somatic symptoms for mental disorder, independent of adolescent depression, suggests that somatic symptoms and depression symptoms are different expressions of a common disorder. Female adolescents with depression need more psychiatric and somatic in-patient care but the males do not. Instead, they have considerably more in-patient stays due to alcohol and drug abuse. The males might be taken care of outside the health care system and seem to need special attention. In women with adolescent and recurrent adult depression there is an association with premature aging of the carotid wall. These women are at risk of developing early cardio-vascular disease and need early interventions.