Depression in Substance-Dependent Delinquents Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: Depression often is comorbid with conduct disorder. The purpose of this study is to assess whether, among youths with conduct disorder, those with depression differ in other ways from those without depression. METHOD: Ninety-nine delinquent boys (aged 13 through 19 years) were evaluated with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children and other instruments. All boys had conduct disorder and substance use disorders. RESULTS: Staff-rated and self-rated depression scores correlated significantly. Twenty-one boys had major depression and/or dysthymia. Depressed boys had more substance dependence diagnoses and were more likely to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders, compared with the nondepressed boys. Depressed boys tended to develop conduct symptoms earlier than did the nondepressed boys. Depression scores did not change after at least 4 weeks of abstinence, for either depressed or nondepressed boys. CONCLUSIONS: Depressed delinquents have more substance dependence diagnoses, tend to initiate behavioral problems at an earlier age, have increased anxiety and attentional problems, and more trauma effects, than nondepressed delinquents. Depression does not appear to be related to substance intoxication, since it is not alleviated after 4 weeks of abstinence. Such boys may require combined psychiatric and substance treatment.


  • Riggs, Paula D
  • Baker, Steven
  • Mikulich, Susan K
  • Young, Susan E
  • Crowley, Thomas J

publication date

  • June 1995