[Frequency of smoking, drinking, and substance use and their relationship to psychiatric comorbidity in children and adolescents with depression].Psychiatr Hung. 2006; 21(3):219-26.PH
Adolescence is a high-risk period with regard to the development of both affective disorders and unhealthy behaviors. The association between depression and smoking and drinking in adulthood and adolescence has been well established. Smoking in a young age increases the risk of substance abuse later in life, which in turn further increases the functional impairment caused by psychiatric illnesses. In our study, we investigated the frequency of smoking, alcohol consumption and substance abuse and their association with psychiatric disorders in a child population affected by depression.
The study was carried out on 267 children at risk for depression. Psychiatric diagnosis was assessed by a semi-structured interview, while information on severity of depressive symptoms and on unhealthy behaviors was collected through self-report questionnaires.
Mean age of the sample was 12.4 years (SD: 2.6 years) and a major depressive disorder (MDD) was present in 51%. The prevalence of smoking and drinking behaviors was increased in the sample, 19.9% and 24%, respectively. MDD and comorbid anxiety disorders increased the risk of alcohol consumption (OR=2.81 and OR=2.61), while comorbid behavioral disorders enhanced the likelihood of smoking (OR=3.72). Of the various comorbid disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and conduct disorder was shown to have notable effects.
Early screening for smoking and drinking behavior is very important in child and adolescent populations affected by depression. Anxiety and behavioral disturbances associated with depression increase the risk of unhealthy behaviors. Taking preventive measures as early as possible might significantly influence quality of life later as an adult.