Psychological and contextual risk factors for first-onset depression among adolescents and young people around the globe: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Gloria A. Pedersen, Crystal Lam, Megan Hoffmann, Zuzanna Zajkowska, Annabel Walsh, Christian Kieling, Valeria Mondelli, Helen L. Fisher, Kamal Gautam, Brandon A. Kohrt

Early Intervention in Psychiatry

Published on: 7 April 2022

Aim: Identifying predictors for future onset of depression is crucial to effectively developing preventive interventions. We conducted a systematic review and metaanalysis to identify risk factors for first-onset depression among adolescents and young people.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE (Ovid), PsycINFO, Cochrane Database, Web of Science, Lilacs, African Journals Online and Global Health (July 2009 to December 2020) for longitudinal studies assessing risk factors for first-onset depression among adolescents and young people aged 10–25 years. Meta-analyses generated summary odds ratio (OR) estimates. Registration: PROSPERO CRD42018103973.

Results: Nineteen studies representing 21 unique populations were included in the meta-analysis. Among studies reporting race/ethnicity, 79% of participants were of White/European descent. Seventeen studies were from high-income countries, with only two from an upper-middle-income country (China). Odds for first-onset depression were significantly greater for girls compared to boys (n = 13; OR = 1.78 [1.78, 2.28], p < 0.001) and for youth with other mental health problems at baseline (n = 4; OR = 3.20 [1.95, 5.23], p < 0.001). There were non-significant associations for negative family environment (n = 8; OR = 1.60 [0.82, 3.10], p = 0.16) and parental depression (n = 3; OR = 2.30 [0.73, 7.24], p = 0.16).

Conclusions: Most longitudinal studies do not report risk factors specifically for first onset depression. Moreover, predictive data are limited to predominantly White populations in high-income countries. Future research must be more ethnically and geographically representative. Recommendations are provided for consistent and comprehensive reporting of study designs and analyses of risk factors for first-onset depression.

Keywords: adolescent, developing countries, early diagnosis, risk assessment, risk factors

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