Background: Family background, social support and psychological characteristics
are known to be associated with depression in adolescence, but scientific data in complex,
naturalistic settings are scarce.
Objective: To investigate the characteristics of adolescent psychiatric inpatients with depressive
disorders compared to peers without psychiatric disorders and to adolescent psychiatric
inpatients without depression.
Methods: The study population of 206 inpatients (13-17 years old) and 203 age and gendermatched
non-referred adolescents was evaluated using the Schedule for Affective Disorders
and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present and Lifetime Version (K-SADS-PL) interview,
and clinical interview and clinical records when available. Structured self-reports
provided information on family background, defense styles, self-image and perceived social
support. We compared firstly subjects with current depressive disorders (n=120) to subjects
without any psychiatric disorder (n=159) and secondly within the inpatient population, those
with depressive disorders (n=117) to those with any other psychiatric diagnoses (n=89).
Results: Current depressive disorders were characterized by worse self-image, less mature
defenses and less perceived social support particularly from the family. Adversities in the
family were more prevalent in subjects with depression compared to subjects without any
psychiatric diagnosis, while among inpatients, no significant differences were observed.
Psychiatric comorbidity was common in all inpatients, whereas suicidality was more prevalent
among inpatients with depression.
Conclusion: Negative self-image, less mature defense style and low perceived social support
particularly from the family were characteristics of depression in adolescents.