The prevalence of depressive symptoms among Arab adolescents: Findings from Jordan.
BACKGROUND: The lack of research regarding the current profile of adolescent depression in the Arab countries in general, and Jordan in particular, makes it difficult to design, implement, and disseminate effective interventions to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adolescent depression in the region. The purpose of this study was to estimate a national prevalence of depressive symptoms among adolescents in Jordan, and to identify characteristics associated with severity of depression. METHODS: A descriptive, cross-sectional, nationally representative school survey was utilized. A total of 2,349 Jordanian adolescents aged 12-17 completed and returned the survey packets, which included the Beck Depression Inventory-II and measures of sociodemographics and health history. Participants represented all three regions in the country, with 34% from the northern (suburban) region, 43% from the central (urban) region, and 23% from the southern (rural) region. RESULTS: The majority of the adolescents were females (59%) and 15-17 years old (67%). Almost 14% reported having at least one chronic health problem, 15% reported having a mental health problem, 25% reported having academic difficulties, 8% reported that they had received a psychiatric diagnosis, and 22% reported that they had sought psychological help at some point in the past. The mean total depression score was 16.3 (SD = 11.2, 95% CI = 15.8-16.7), with 34% of the sample reporting moderate to severe depression. Depression was significantly higher among respondents who were female, ages 14-15 years, and living in families with low monthly incomes; and who reported having a chronic health problem, mental health problem, learning difficulty, a psychiatric diagnosis and/or seeking previous psychological help. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings should serve as an alarm, particularly given that rates of depression in the Arab countries are expected to increase rapidly in the context of the Arab Spring. Healthcare providers, researchers, and educators should focus attention on developing effective and culturally appropriate screening, prevention, and intervention approaches using evidence-based guidelines to promote Jordanian adolescent mental health, particularly for depression.
Dardas, LA; Silva, SG; Smoski, MJ; Noonan, D; Simmons, LA
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