Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common, familial, and recurrent childhood and adolescent disorder. Childhood depression appears to manifest during earlier ages in consecutive cohorts and appears frequently with co-morbid psychiatric disorders, increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, and behavior problems. MDD is 1.5 to 3 times more common amongst first-degree relatives with affected individuals compared to the general population. The lifetime prevalence of MDD in the general populations is 10-25% in women and 5-12% in men. Depressed children and adolescents often suffer from reduced psychological, academic, and family functioning. Research on the use of medication for youths suffering from MDD are few and have methodologic problems, meanwhile hardly any studies were carried out in children and those included the effects of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Furthermore, depressed adults are effectively treated with antidepressants including heterocyclics (such as amoxapine, maprotiline), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), bupropion, venlafaxine, and nefazodone.
MDD was found to associate with high mortality due to suicide in 15% of persons with severe MDD; moreover, epidemiological research demonstrated a fourfold increase in mortality among MDD patients aged over 55 years and those who are admitted to nursing homes within the first year. MDD was also found to associate with several mental disorders and medical conditions including dysthymic disorder, substance-related disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, borderline personality disorder, diabetes, myocardial infarction, carcinomas, and stroke.
Shaaban and Baashar (2003) conducted a two-stage epidemiological survey in order to measure the prevalence rate of major depressive disorder in 1,107 girls from 3 elementary and 3 secondary schools (aged 12-19 years) in Khartoum, Sudan and to relate it to age. Of these, 272 were selected for intensive interviews. The estimated prevalence of major depressive disorder for the population was 4.2%. Using a cutoff point of 15 on a short BDI, 11% of the adolescent girls reported severe depression. The BDI scores increased with age. A proportion of girls interviewed reported depressive symptoms which did not meet the criteria of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) for major depressive disorder, and the estimated prevalence of this 'partial syndrome' was 8.6%.