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Conference Proceeding

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Background: The SARS-COV2 pandemic created numerous stressors for adolescents. Prior studies have shown an increased risk for self-reported depression symptoms in pediatric patients after trauma. . Objectives: This study compares the rates of newly diagnosed adolescent depression, and self-reported depression symptoms, in an outpatient clinic during the pandemic as compared to pre-pandemic. Design/Methods: This IRB approved study involved a retrospective chart review of adolescents aged 12-17 who attended an academic clinic between January 1, 2018 and March 22, 2020.Included were adolescents aged 12 to 17 who completed a PHQ-9 questionnaire at their annual wellness visit, without a prior diagnosis or documented treatment for a mood disorder. If multiple patient encounters occurred in the pre-pandemic period the most recent was utilized. Exclusion criteria included a prior diagnosis or current therapy for a mood disorder, or incomplete PHQ-9questionnaire. Charts were reviewed for age, gender, race, PHQ-9 questionnaire results and a diagnosis of depression; standard PHQ-9 criteria were used to identify presence and severity of depression. The pandemic data consisted of the same data points collected between March 23,2020 and June 2, 2021 during the shelter-in-place order. Results: Three hundred eighty-one patient charts were reviewed with 250 meeting inclusion criteria from 233 distinct patients (53.6% female; 55.4% African American; 24.9% Caucasian, and mean age 14.4). During the pre-pandemic period, 61 (29.6%) of the 206 patients had a PHQ-9 score positive for depression. Depression severity among these 61 patients was: 42 (68.9%) mild, 13(21.3%) moderate, 5 (8.2%) moderate-severe, 1 (1.6%) severe. During the pandemic period, 13(29.6%) of the 44 patients had a PHQ-9 score positive for depression. Depression severity among these was: 10 (77%) mild, 2 (15%) moderate and 1 (8%) severe. Among teens who screened positive for depression and completed questions assessing symptom severity, 30/53 (56.6%) in the pre-pandemic and 10/11 (90.9%) in the pandemic period reported symptoms causing difficulty in daily activities. Conclusion: This study did not show an increased incidence of new onset depression amongst adolescents in the outpatient clinic during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic time period utilizing PHQ-9 screening. However, those who screened positive for depression during the pandemic period reported more difficulty in performing daily activities.


American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP Experience Virtual 2021 National Conference & Exhibition. October 8-11, 2021. Abstract.

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