Prevalence and association of depressive symptoms with the consumption of analgesics among adolescents

Momota Hena, Cherry Leung, Eva Clausson, Pernilla Garmy

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Introduction: Depression is a major cause of morbidity and disability worldwide, and according to the World Health Organization, it is the fourth leading cause of disease burden. Depression is a complex condition that can have disabling effects on an individual’s personal relationships, productivity and general health. A large group of youths are at risk for depression, which is more pervasive than normal teenage mood swings. The worldwide prevalence rate of depression among adolescents is approximately 4–8%. Depressive symptoms have a significant association with how physiological pain is perceived. In Sweden, non-prescribed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have seen permitted since 2009. Therefore, analgesics like paracetamol and ibuprofen are available from retail shops for all customers, including adolescents. Studies on the use of OTC drugs in Sweden have revealed how Swedish teenagers can be vulnerable as new customers due to gaps in knowledge and misconceptions about OTC drugs.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to investigate the prevalence of depressive symptoms, physiological pain and the consumption of analgesics, as well as the association between depressive symptoms and the consumption of analgesics among Swedish adolescents between 13 and 15 years old. The hypothesis of this study is that there is a correlation between depressive symptoms and analgesic intake among Swedish adolescents.

Materials and Methods: This study was conducted in six municipalities in southern Sweden from 2012 to 2014. All schools with students in grade 8 were asked to participate in the study, and 21 of the 23 eligible schools agreed to participate. Questionnaires were distributed among the students, and consent responses were obtained. Depressive symptoms were measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), scores ≥16.

Results: The prevalence of depressive symptoms was 37% among girls and 13% among boys. The prevalence rate of consuming analgesics during the last weeks was 57% among girls and 29% among boys. A multivariate logistic regression showed that depressive symptoms are significantly associated with the consumption of analgesics among teenagers.

Conclusion: This paper could contribute to the wider research scope in the global community in terms of how increasing use of OTC analgesics among adolescents might be a sign that the health care system should focus on their complex psychosocial problems. Further research should be done on what to target when supporting adolescents who are struggling with pain and higher consumption of analgesics to educate them about pain-management strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event10th Excellence in Pediatrics Conference -
Duration: 1980-Jan-01 → …


Conference10th Excellence in Pediatrics Conference
Period80-01-01 → …

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology (30302)


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