Adult outcomes of childhood and adolescent depression.
The study was based on the clinical data summaries ("item
sheets") of children who attended the Maudsley Hospital during
the late 1960s and early 1970s. These summaries were used to
identify a group of 80 child and adolescent psychiatric patients
with an operationally defined depressive syndrome. The depressed
children were individually matched with 80 non-depressed
psychiatric controls on demographic variables and non-depressive
childhood symptoms by a computer algorithm. At follow-up, on
average 18 years after the initial contact, information was
obtained on the adult psychiatric status of 82% of the total
sample. Adult assessments were made "blind" to case/control
status, and included standardized measures of "lifetime"
psychiatric disorder and psychosocial functioning. The depressed
group was at increased risk for affective disorder in adult life,
and had elevated risks of psychiatric hospitalization and
psychiatric treatment. Depressed children were no more likely
than control children to have non-depressive adult psychiatric
disorders. These findings suggest that there is substantial
specificity in the continuity of affective disturbances between
childhood and adult life.