Mental Health and Substances

The link between depression and substance use

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s most up to date findings report the following: 

“Adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2021 with a past year MDE were more likely than those without a past year MDE to have used most illicit drugs in the past year. For example, 27.7% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 with a past year MDE used illicit drugs in the past year compared with 10.7% of those without a past year MDE.” 

In summary, teens are almost three times more likely to be using substances if they are having depression type symptoms. This highlights how key it is to find and help teens who are struggling emotionally. 

Identifying youth struggling with mental health problems

In 2022 The U.S. The Preventive Services Task Force made a recommendation that all primary care providers screen teens for depression. Dr. Ruston is in favor of this new recommendation. 

No such recommendation currently exists for screening for clinical anxiety.

Youth can be screened for clinical depression and clinical anxiety by meeting with primary care or mental health providers.

Our film Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER looked extensively at anxiety, depression and stress and in the RESOURCE section for that film you will find helpful links on these topics.