Abdominal pain is common in adolescence.
Dr Nader Youssef and colleagues from New Jersey, USA determined the prevalence of depressive symptoms in a large cohort of patients with frequent abdominal pain.
The research team conducted a prospective, cross-sectional, nationally representative sample of children aged 13 to 18 years, of which 49% were male.
The participants completed in-home interviews and separate in-school questionnaires for the National Longitudinal Study in Adolescent Health (the Add Health Study).
|The risk for depression goes from 16% to 45% when the pain is daily|
|Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology|
Depressed mood was assessed with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
The team reported subjective measures of abdominal pain by 20,745 adolescents from wave 1 of the Add Health Study.
The team rated frequency of abdominal pain over the previous 1 year as rare, with 0 to 1 episode per week, moderate included 2 to 3 episodes per week, while daily with more than 4 episodes/week.
The researchers found that daily pain is reported in 3% of adolescents, with an additional 14% reporting pain as moderate in frequency.
The team noted that about 16% of all adolescents are at risk for developing depression.
The team found the risk for depression goes from 16% to 45% when the pain is daily.
Compared with rare pain, children with daily pain were more likely to miss school 10 or more times per year, cry, feel sad, and lonely.
The team found children with daily pain were likely to consider life a failure versus those with no pain.
Dr Youssef's team concluded, "Adolescents with frequent abdominal pain are at increased risk for depressive symptoms, social isolation, and missing school."