Transitioning to Adulthood: The Role of Adolescent Depression and Suicidal Ideation

Research BriefHealthNov 1 2014

Prior research suggests that depression and suicidal ideation put adolescents at risk for unhealthy development later in life. Although this research is compelling, much of it is limited by (a) a reliance on cross-sectional data that has made it difficult to disentangle the influence of depressive and suicidal symptoms from the influence of other co-occurring risk factors, (b) the use of small, clinic-based samples, and (c) a focus on single outcome variables rather than a constellation of outcomes associated with positive development. The purpose of this study was to assess the long-term influence of moderate-to-severe depressive or suicidal symptoms in adolescence on the transition to adulthood. Thirteen years of data from Waves I to IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health, N=11,186) were analyzed to assess the likelihood that study participants were positioned to make a healthy transition to adulthood by their mid/late twenties and early thirties.