Gender differences in the trends and correlates of major depressive episodes among juvenile offenders in the United States

Katherine J. Holzer, Sehun Oh, Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Michael G. Vaughn, Jacqueline Landess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Although it is well-established that juvenile offenders are at an elevated risk for depression and that, within this group, females have the highest risk, little is known regarding the trends in the prevalence of depression among juvenile offenders in the United States. In the present study, we systematically examine secular trends in major depressive episodes (MDE) and their correlates among male and female juvenile offenders and non-offenders in the United States. Methods Data were collected between 2005 and 2014 as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The NSDUH uses multistage area probability sampling methods to select a representative sample of the civilian, non-institutionalized population in the United States. Participants included 171,118 youth aged 12–17 (159,449 non-offenders and 11,669 offenders). The primary variable of interest was self-reported past year MDE. Logistic regression assessed whether sociodemographic factors and psychosocial and behavioral correlates affected the risk of MDE. Results Between 2005 and 2014, the prevalence of MDE among female youth increased for both offender and non-offender groups: from 24.4% to 33.0% for the offenders and from 12.4% to 16.7% for the non-offenders. No significant trend changes were observed among male youth. In both male and female juvenile offenders, MDEs were associated with increased risk of illicit drug use (males OR = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.18–2.18; females OR = 1.83, 95% CI = 1.45–2.31). Additional correlates include alcohol use among male offenders (OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.01–1.83), and binge drinking in female offenders (OR = 1.24, 95% CI = 1.02–1.49). Conclusions The prevalence of past year major depressive episodes is increasing for female juvenile offenders, highlighting a need for improved efforts to target these populations for prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health ( R25 DA030310 ; PI: James C. Anthony) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science ( KL2 TR001411 ; PI: David Felson). The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest associated with this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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