What Do We Know About Depression Among Youth and How Can We Make Progress Toward Improved Understanding and Reducing Distress? A New Hope

Benjamin L. Hankin, Julianne M. Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This paper summarizes many findings about depression among children and adolescents. Depression is prevalent, highly distressing, and exerts considerable burden worldwide. Rates surge from childhood through young adulthood and have increased over the last decade. Many risk factors have been identified, and evidence-based interventions exist targeting mostly individual-level changes via psychological or pharmacological means. At the same time, the field appears stuck and has not achieved considerable progress in advancing scientific understanding of depression’s features or delivering interventions to meet the challenge of youth depression’s high and growing prevalence. This paper adopts several positions to address these challenges and move the field forward. First, we emphasize reinvigoration of construct validation approaches that may better characterize youth depression’s phenomenological features and inform more valid and reliable assessments that can enhance scientific understanding and improve interventions for youth depression. To this end, history and philosophical principles affecting depression’s conceptualization and measurement are considered. Second, we suggest expanding the range and targets of treatments and prevention efforts beyond current practice guidelines for evidence-based interventions. This broader suite of interventions includes structural- and system-level change focused at community and societal levels (e.g., evidence-based economic anti-poverty interventions) and personalized interventions with sufficient evidence base. We propose that by focusing on the FORCE (Fundamentals, Openness, Relationships, Constructs, Evidence), youth depression research can provide new hope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-942
Number of pages24
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • History and philosophy
  • Personalized prevention
  • Review and position paper
  • Risks
  • Treatment
  • Youth depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Education
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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