Adolescent depression is associated with a range of interpersonal adversities. We hypothesized that depressed adolescents are at subsequent increased risk of problems related to intimate relationships and childbearing in adulthood, and used longitudinal data to examine this.
A population-based investigation of depression in 16 to 17 year olds was followed up after 15 years, at around the age of 30 years. Comparisons were made between adolescents with depression (n = 361, 78% females) and non-depressed peers (n = 248, 77% females). Data from both national registers and personal interviews were used.
At follow-up, the former depressed and non-depressed adolescents had become parents to a similar extent. The former depressed females were more likely than the non-depressed females to report abortion, miscarriage, intimate partner violence and sexually transmitted disease. They also reported a higher number of intimate relationships and were more likely to have divorced and to be registered as single mothers. Depressed females with a comorbid disruptive disorder had a particularly poor outcome. In the depressed females without a disruptive disorder, only those who subsequently had recurrent depressions in adulthood were at increased risk of poor outcome. There was no indication that the formerly depressed males were at increased risk of subsequent problems related to intimate relationships.
Females with adolescent depression subsequently have problems related to intimate relationships and childbearing. Disruptive disorders and recurrence of depression appear to be instrumental in this association. Attention should be given to intimate relationship problems and sexual and reproductive health issues in young women with depression.