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The findings of research conducted by Dr Rongqin Yu under the supervision of Profs Seena Fazel and Guy Goodwin with collaborators in Finland and the Netherlands emphasize the need for early detection and intervention.

The study, 'Depression and Violence in Adolescence and Young Adults: Findings From Three Longitudinal Cohort', published in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) examined the longitudinal association between depression and subsequent violence from three representative samples in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Finland.


Our findings indicate the importance of early detection and treatment of depression. - Dr Rongqin Yu

The research team, led by Professor Seena Fazel and Rongqin Yu, from the University of Oxford's Forensic Psychiatry Group, used complementary measures of depression, including self/ informant-report of violent behaviors and official registration of violent convictions for these three cohorts.

Across cohorts, they found modest increases in risk of violence in depression. In absolute terms, for instance, in the Finnish sample, 7.1% of individuals with depression were convicted of one or more violent crimes, compared with 3.6% in the general population without depression.

In relative terms, across samples and measurements, the study shows a consistent pattern of increased relative risk of later violence. In the Netherlands and UK samples, an increase in depressive symptoms was associated with a significant elevated risk of later violence. In the Finnish sample, the odds of violence in individuals with a diagnosis of depression were increased two-fold, compared to those without depression. These findings highlight the need for active and early treatment of depression in adolescents and young people. The mechanisms behind this link need further investigation, and may involve increased impulsivity, hostility and poor self-regulation. 

This research is important for two main reasons. First, it adds to the evidence of the many potential harms of untreated depression in young people. Second, it suggests that closer liaison between criminal justice and mental health might prevent violence in high-risk individuals. - Professor Seena Fazel


“We know that high rates of depression have been reported among adolescents in juvenile detention and correctional facilities, for instance, 11% in boys and 29% in girls,” said Dr. Rongqin Yu, lead researcher at the Forensic Psychiatry Group at the University of Oxford. “However, the longitudinal link between depression and violence was unclear. Our longitudinal design allowed us to take into account previous violence, enabling us to test whether adolescent depression is associated with changes in violence over time."



Read: 'Depression and Violence in Adolescence and Young Adults: Findings From Three Longitudinal Cohort', Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP)

See media coverage:

Mental health sufferers TWICE as likely to have conviction
Daily Mail online, 01/08/2017, Claudia Tanner

Teen depression linked to violence: Study
Business Standard India (online), 02/08/2017

Teen depression increases risk of violence: Need for early detection and intervention
Economic Times (online), 02/08/2017

Detect it early: Teen depression increases the risk of violence
Hindustan Times (online), 02/08/2017

Risk of violence increased in depressed teens, says study
Deccan Chronicle (online), 03/08/2017


Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.