The British Journal of Psychiatry
The current age of youthful melancholia. Evidence for increase in depression among adolescents and young adults.
G L Klerman


The possibility of a rise in rates of depression among adolescents and young adults was first reported in the 1970s. Particular note was taken of the emergence of childhood depression and the increase in suicide attempts and death among adolescents and young adults. Data from large-sample family studies and community epidemiological surveys have been reviewed and reanalysed, using life-table statistical methodology. Evidence for secular trends are presented, and the problems of disentangling period and cohort effect are discussed. It appears that the 'baby boomers' - those born in the years after World War II - have had increased rates of depression and other related illnesses, including drug abuse and alcoholism. The theoretical aspects of this are discussed, particularly for gene-environment interactions.