Depression top illness among teens

Depression is the leading cause of illness and disability among boys and girls ages 10 to 19 – higher than traffic injuries, anemia, asthma and self-harm.

The World Health Organization’s recently published “Health for the world’s adolescents” report looks at the top causes of illness and disability and the top causes of adolescent deaths globally.

The report ranks depression at the top of the list of illness and disability, and suicide ranks as the No. 3 cause of death among teens.

The leading cause of death among adolescents globally is traffic injuries.

“The world has not paid enough attention to the health of adolescents,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO’s assistant director-general for family, women and children’s health, in a news release. “We hope this report will focus high-level attention on the health needs of 10 to 19-year-olds and serve as a springboard for accelerated action on adolescent health.”

Some studies show half of all people who develop mental disorders show their first symptoms by the age of 14, according to the report. Getting adolescents with mental health problems the care they need can prevent deaths and suffering throughout life, according to the report.

Here are the top causes of illness and disability in adolescents, according to the report:

  1. Depression
  2. Road traffic injuries
  3. Anemia
  5. Self-harm

And here are the top causes of death:

  1. Road traffic injuries
  3. Suicide
  4. Lower respiratory infections
  5. Violence


Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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