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A study spanning fourteen years shows that about half of all teenaged boys and two-thirds of teenage girls who experience mental health problems in adolescents will continue to have issues into their 20s, but those who have a single episode that lasts less than six months are unlikely to have problems later in life.
The study, headed by Professor George Patton of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, tracked nearly 2,000 adolescents for fourteen years.
Persistent unhappiness, moodiness, anxiety and a loss of interest in friends, school, or hobbies are warnings signs of depression and other mental illnesses and parents should talk with their children if these symptoms last longer than a few days. Most children, the study found, who do not have persistent mental illnesses during their teenage years, despite suffering short bouts with depression or anxiety, are likely to be mentally stable and without issue in adulthood.
Patton's study was published in the Lancet journal and shows that some depression or anxiety in the teen years is normal. About half of the boys in the study and a third of the girls in the study had only short-term mental health issues, however, and nearly all recovered normally.
"The longer the episode continues, the more likely the teenager is to have recurring problems into their early 20s," Prof Patton says.
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