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How did mood of adolescents with depression change during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Adolescents with depression reported fewer symptoms during COVID-19 pandemic


A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports that adolescents with depression experienced lower anxiety and depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the year prior to the pandemic. In contrast, healthy volunteers reported an increase in depressive symptoms during the pandemic; although their scores remained much lower than those of adolescents with depression.

These findings are based on data from the Characterization and Treatment of Depression (CAT-D) study at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The CAT-D study is a longitudinal case-control study that started pre-pandemic. As part of the study, state-of-the-art diagnostic interviews were conducted with each participant, and standardized questionnaires were administered to adolescents and their parents/caretakers on a regular basis. Participants included 166 adolescents (109 girls, 96 adolescents with depression). They provided 1820 depressive symptoms measurements (519 measurements pre-pandemic and 1,302 during the pandemic) and 1800 anxiety symptoms measurements (508 measurements pre-pandemic and 1,292 ratings during the pandemic) before and during the pandemic.

“We initially thought adolescents with depression would report worse mood and anxiety outcomes during the pandemic, however, contrary to our hypothesis, they reported lower depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to pre-pandemic. This also largely overlapped with how parents rated their children’s mood and behavior. One possible explanation for this finding is that adolescents with depression might have felt relief with reduced exposure to stressful social situations (e.g., large social gatherings and school). Further work is needed to track the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic long term,“ said lead author Neda Sadeghi, PhD.



The article is ”Mood and Behaviors of Adolescents With Depression in a Longitudinal Study Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic” Neda Sadeghi, PhD, Payton Q. Fors, BA, Lillian Eisner, BA, Jeremy Taigman, BS, Karen Qi, BA, Lisa S. Gorham, BA, Christopher C. Camp, BS, Georgia O’Callaghan, PhD, Diana Rodriguez, BSN, MPA, Jerry McGuire, RN, Erin M. Garth, MSN, PPCNP-BC, Chana Engel, MSN, PMHNP-BC, Mollie Davis, MSW, LCSW-C2, Kenneth E. Towbin, MD, Argyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, FRCPsych, Dylan M. Nielson, PhD It currently appears on the JAACAP Articles In Press page and will appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, volume 61, issue 11 (November 2022), published by Elsevier.

Copies of this paper are available to credentialed journalists upon request; please contact the JAACAP Editorial Office at or +1 202 587 9674. Journalists wishing to interview the authors may contact Neda Sadeghi, PhD; email: or Argyris Stringaris, MD, PhD; e-mail:


Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) is the official publication of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. JAACAP is the leading journal focusing exclusively on today’s psychiatric research and treatment of the child and adolescent. Published twelve times per year, each issue is committed to its mission of advancing the science of pediatric mental health and promoting the care of youth and their families.

The Journal’s purpose is to advance research, clinical practice, and theory in child and adolescent psychiatry. It is interested in manuscripts from diverse viewpoints, including genetic, epidemiological, neurobiological, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, social, cultural, and economic. Studies of diagnostic reliability and validity, psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatment efficacy, and mental health services effectiveness are encouraged. The Journal also seeks to promote the well-being of children and families by publishing scholarly papers on such subjects as health policy, legislation, advocacy, culture and society, and service provision as they pertain to the mental health of children and families.

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