The gender difference was quite significant with girls showing a greater degree of depression symptoms than boys who were exhibiting less dangerous behaviors. However there was no noticeable gender difference for a major proportion of high-risk activities, except that girls preferred to exchange sex for money or drugs.
Depression symptoms included lack of appetite, sadness, getting upset over things that were not an issue before, disinterested in otherwise interested areas and seeing no good future for themselves.
Researchers compared teenagers who were involved in these risk behaviors (drug /alcohol / tobacco / sexual abuse) to those who did not indulge in such deeds. They concluded that irrespective of the degree of risk activity, there was an increased risk of developing depression symptoms in both the sexes. Teenagers who did not get involved in such risky activities had lower depression symptoms than those who did. For example, girls who tried out sex had four times more depression symptoms than those who refrained from such activities.
Research conducted by Dr Martha Waller of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation indicates that boys and girls exhibited different depression symptoms and it was related to their risk behaviors. However, no difference was noticed in the depression symptoms of both sexes who did not involve in risk activity.
Although it does not conclusively prove that these behaviors initiate depression, scrutinizing such behaviors in teens can help a health care provider justify examining for depression, especially for girls.
Dr Volkow, NIDA Director said that 'There are significant changes in the brain during adolescence and there is growing interest in studying how substance abuse may change brain structure and chemistry, and in turn, cognition and emotion.'
Future research will delve into detailed introspection of the link between risky behavior and gender influence in the development of adolescent depression.