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Patterns of depressive symptoms in children

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Bailey, M. K.; Zauszniewski, J. A.; Heinzer, M. M.; Hemstrom-Krainess, A. M.

PROBLEM: Depressive symptoms in children have been linked to recurrent problems with depression, school problems, and risky health behaviors. Adolescent girls report depressive symptoms three to four times more frequently than adolescent boys. Few studies, however, have examined gender-related depressive symptoms in younger, school-aged children. METHODS: In the present study, gender differences in depressive symptoms in children ages 10-12 years were explored using the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) with a convenience sample of 122 suburban middle-class public school fifth and sixth graders. FINDINGS: A distinct pattern of depressive symptom expression was found with girls reporting more internalizing and more negative self-esteem, and boys reporting more externalizing and more school problems. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that despite similarities on a total depressive symptom score, there are distinct gender differences in depressive symptom expression that are identifiable before adolescence and may be associated with normative development.

Research abstracts