Recurrence of major depressive disorder in hospitalized children and adolescents

Graham J. Emslie, A. John Rush, Warren A. Weinberg, Christina M. Gullion, Jeanne Rintelmann, Carroll W. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the outcome of a sample of children and adolescents hospitalized with major depressive disorder (MDD) and to assess different duration and severity criteria to define recovery and recurrence. Method: Fifty-nine of 70 children and adolescents were reevaluated 1 to 5 years later, and the intervening course of depression and other disorders was assessed using the Kiddie-Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation (K- LIFE). Results: Ninety-eight percent of subjects had recovered from their index MDD episode within 1 year of their initial evaluation, but 61% had at least one recurrence during the follow-up period. Of those with recurrences, 47.2% had a recurrence within 1 year and 69.4% by 2 years from the offset of the index episode. Changing the criteria for recovery by increasing the length of time required to define recovery resulted in decreases in the number of episodes of recurrence reported. Conclusion: MDD in children and adolescents is often an episodic disorder. Differences in definitions of recovery and recurrence affect the data reported. Consistent definitions of remission, recovery, relapse, and recurrence are needed. These data suggest that recovery may be defined after two consecutive months without symptoms and that episodes of MDD may be briefer, but more frequent, in children and adolescents than in adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-792
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Course of illness
  • Depression
  • Recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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