Neurodevelopment and ages of onset in depressive disorders

Hagan, Cindy C.; Graham, Julia M. E.; Wilkinson, Paul O.; Midgley, Nick; Suckling, John; Sahakian, Barbara J.; Goodyear, Ian

How and why do clinical depressive disorders emerge in adolescence? In this Personal View, we present a neurodevelopmental theory to address causes for adolescent onsets of clinical depressive disorders. We argue that theories should account for three perplexing aspects of depressive disorders in adolescence: the episodic nature of depression; differences between sexes in rates of depression across development; and age-differentiated onsets. We consider how theories such as psychosocial acceleration, heterochronic brain development, dual-process models, glucocorticoid vulnerability hypothesis linked to early life stress, and epigenetic and genetic susceptibility might explain some aspects of adolescent depressive disorders. We argue that some synthesis between existing theories might be needed to establish a sufficient neurodevelopmental theoretical framework to explain onsets of depressive disorders in adolescence.


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The Lancet Psychiatry

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May 19, 2016