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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 475248, 10 pages
Research Article

Depression with and without Comorbid Substance Dependence in a Child Welfare Sample of Young Adults

1School of Pharmacy, University of Colorado, Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building, Mail Stop F800, P.O. Box 6508, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
2School of Pharmacy, University of Colorado, 12631 E. 17th Avenue, Campus Box C238-L15, Aurora, CO 80045, USA

Received 31 May 2010; Revised 13 August 2010; Accepted 25 October 2010

Academic Editor: Robert Milin

Copyright © 2011 Heather Orton Anderson and Anne M. Libby. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of depression with and without substance dependence and examine the effect of risk factors on subsequent disorders among a cohort of young adults in the US Child Welfare System (CWS). We used longitudinal data for 834 young adults age 18–21 from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being. Depressive symptoms and substance use were measured at baseline (age 11–15); diagnoses of depression and substance dependence were identified at the last wave of data collection (age 18–21). Likelihood of subsequent depression with or without substance dependence was three times higher for those with clinically significant depressive symptoms at baseline. Frequent use of substances at baseline significantly increased the likelihood of subsequent depression with comorbid substance dependence compared to depression alone. These results support screening youth in the CWS at younger ages for both depressive symptoms and substance use with the hope that these disorders can be detected earlier.