Invisible risk group among adolescents at risk of mental ill-health

February 3, 2014

Adolescents with high media use, reduced sleep and low physical activity comprise an 'invisible-risk' group that has high prevalence of psychiatric symptoms, according to a large international study led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet. The results of the study are published in the February issue of World Psychiatry.

Over 12,000 (14-16 years old) in eleven European countries answered questionnaires covering different and psychiatric symptoms. Statistical analyses of the results identified three risk groups among the adolescents. Individuals who scored high on all examined risk behaviours clustered in the 'high-risk' group (13 per cent of the adolescents). The 'low-risk' group (58 per cent) consisted of responders who had no or very low frequency of risk behaviours.

However, i addition to these two expected groups a third group labelled the 'invisible risk' group was identified. Youths in this group were characterised by high media use, sedentary behaviour and reduced sleep. These behaviours are generally not associated with by observers such as teachers and parents. However, adolescents in the 'invisible' risk group had similar prevalence of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, subthreshold depression and depression as the 'high' risk group.

"As many as nearly 30 per cent of the adolescents clustered in the 'invisible' group that had a high level of psychopathological symptoms. While the 'high' risk group is easily identified by behaviour such as alcohol and drug use, parents and teachers are probably not aware of that adolescents in the 'invisible' are at risk", says Vladimir Carli, at the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) at Karolinska Institutet, first author of the study.

The study is the first to estimate the overall prevalence of a wider range of risk behaviours and lifestyles and their association with symptoms of mental ill-health among European adolescents. The results indicate that both risk behaviours and psychopathology are relatively common in this population. It also shows that all risk behaviours and symptoms increase with age, which is in concordance with earlier studies. Most risk behaviours were more common among boys. Emotional such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide were more common among girls.

Explore further: Bullies and victims face mental health risks

More information: "A newly identified group of adolescents at 'invisible' risk for psychopathology and suicidal behavior: findings from the SEYLE study", Vladimir Carli, Christina W. Hoven, Camilla Wasserman, Flaminia Chiesa, Guia Guffanti, Marco Sarchiapone, Alan Apter, Judit Balazs, Romuald Brunner, Paul Corcoran, Doina Cosman, Christian Haring, Miriam Iosue, Michael Kaess, Jean Pierre Kahn, Helen Keeley, Vita Postuvan, Pilar Saiz, Airi Varnik, and Danuta Wasserman, World Psychiatry 2014;13:7886, online 3 February 2014.

Related Stories

Bullies and victims face mental health risks

January 14, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Young teenage bullies and their victims face increased risks of developing mental health and substance use problems later in adolescence, a University of Queensland study has found.

Risk-taking young people need better health services

November 28, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Comprehensive health assessments and supports need to be more widely available for young people attending secondary schools in New Zealand, according to a new study.

Studies find new links between sleep duration and depression

January 31, 2014
A genetic study of adult twins and a community-based study of adolescents both report novel links between sleep duration and depression. The studies are published in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

Childhood depression may increase risk of heart disease by teen years

January 30, 2014
Children with depression are more likely to be obese, smoke and be inactive, and can show the effects of heart disease as early as their teen years, according to a newly published study by University of South Florida Associate ...

Teenagers and young adults diagnosed with cancer are at increased risk of suicide

October 29, 2013
Teenagers and young adults are at increased risk of suicide after being diagnosed with cancer according to a study published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology [1] today.

How are children affected by maternal anxiety and depression?

October 24, 2013
Maternal symptoms of anxiety and depression increased the risk of emotional and disruptive problem behaviors in children as early as 18 months of age, according to new research findings from the TOPP study. The risk persisted ...

Recommended for you

Depression changes structure of the brain, study suggests

July 21, 2017
Changes in the brain's structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.