A new study suggests that childhood mental health problems continue in adulthood.
At Duke University, researchers discovered that children with depression, anxiety, or behavioral issues were six times more likely to have mental health difficulties in adulthood than those with no psychiatric problems.
Later adult mental health struggles include criminal charges, addiction, early pregnancy, instability in housing and employment, and failures in education, according to the study authors. The study was published in the July 15 issue of JAMA Psychiatry, and indicated that even when children have mild episodes of psychiatric problems they are still at risk in adult years. The study found an association, but not a cause and effect link.
Researchers analyzed data obtained from 11 North Carolina Counties. 1400 participants were followed from child years through adult life into their 30s.
“When it comes to key psychiatric problems — depression, anxiety, behavior disorders — there are successful interventions and prevention programs,” study author William Copeland, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said in a Duke news release.
“So, we do have the tools to address these, but they aren’t implemented widely. The burden is then later seen in adulthood, when these problems become costly public health and social issues,” he added.