The increase in symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood among Icelandic adolescents: time trend between 2006 and 2016

Thorisdottir, Ingibjorg E.; Asgeirsdottir, Bryndis Bjork; Sigurvinsdottir, Rannveig; Allegrante, John P.; Sigfusdottir, Inga Dora

BACKGROUND: Both research and popular media reports suggest that adolescent mental health has been deteriorating across societies with advanced economies. This study sought to describe the trends in self-reported symptoms of depressed mood and anxiety among Icelandic adolescents.

METHODS: Data for this study come from repeated, cross-sectional, population-based school surveys of 43 482 Icelandic adolescents in 9th and 10th grade, with six waves of pooled data from 2006 to 2016. We used analysis of variance, linear regression and binomial logistic regression to examine trends in symptom scores of anxiety and depressed mood over time. Gender differences in trends of high symptoms were also tested for interactions.

RESULTS: Linear regression analysis showed a significant linear increase over the course of the study period in mean symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood for girls only; however, symptoms of anxiety among boys decreased. The proportion of adolescents reporting high depressive symptoms increased by 1.6% for boys and 6.8% for girls; the proportion of those reporting high anxiety symptoms increased by 1.3% for boys and 8.6% for girls. Over the study period, the odds for reporting high depressive symptoms and high anxiety symptoms were significantly higher for both genders. Girls were more likely to report high symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood than boys.

CONCLUSIONS: Self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood have increased over time among Icelandic adolescents. Our findings suggest that future research needs to look beyond mean changes and examine the trends among those adolescents who report high symptoms of emotional distress.

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Also Published In

European Journal of Public Health

More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Published Here
February 19, 2020


Keywords: Adolescent; Adolescent Behavior; Anxiety Disorders/epidemiology,; Cross-Sectional Studies; Depression/epidemiology; Female; Forecasting; Humans; Iceland/epidemiology; Male; Psychology, Adolescent/statistics & numerical data; Psychology, Adolescent/trends; Sex Factors; Surveys and Questionnaires