ALMOST one in five 13-year-olds has some symptoms consistent with depression, new research has found, and young girls rather than boys were significantly more likely to suffer from these symptoms.
The Growing Up in Ireland report, carried out jointly by the ESRI and Trinity College Dublin, documents the mental health and wellbeing of the 13-year-olds in the study, some 16% of which have symptoms consistent with depression.
The report is based on interviews with more than 7,400 children and their families, conducted first when the children were nine years of age, and again when the children were 13.
Some 80% displayed no significant difficulties at either age, nine or 13 years, while about 7% were categorised as having difficulties at both nine and 13. The authors of the report said that this was the group they were most concerned about, as their social, emotional, and behavioural problems were likely becoming more entrenched.
Some 88% of 13-year-olds were not displaying significant levels of difficulty in terms of social and emotional wellbeing; 9% had previously smoked a cigarette, and but only 2% of the sample currently smoked. About half of these smoked every day. Some 15% had previously had an alcoholic drink.
The report also found that early-maturing girls had poorer outcomes than girls who were either on time or late maturers. These girls had higher depressive scores, antisocial behaviour, and were more likely to have smoked cigarettes and consumed alcohol.
Having more friends, older friends, being a perpetrator of bullying at age nine, and higher levels of alienation from peers were all associated with higher levels of antisocial behaviour, for both boys and girls.
Conflict and low levels of closeness with mothers, more so than with fathers, were important predictors of higher depressed mood among girls.
For boys in a depressed mood, again parent-child conflict had a key role, although it was conflict with fathers, rather than with mothers, that mattered more.