European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 589–603 | Cite as

Subthreshold depression in adolescence: a systematic review

  • Eszter A. Bertha
  • Judit Balázs


In adolescence, the number of depressive symptoms is rising notably. Individuals may have relevant depressive symptoms without meeting the full criteria of a major depressive episode (MDE), a condition referred to as subthreshold depression (sD). This article presents a review on adolescent sD examining the prevalence, the quality of life (QoL), the risk of developing MDE, and preventive programs available for adolescents living with sD. A systematic literature search from the year of the introduction of Diagnostic and Statistic Manual for Mental Disorders Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) until 2012 (18 years) was conducted with a special focus on adolescent sD. Data from 27 studies were included into this review. The results show high prevalence of sD among adolescents, with a negative impact on QoL, and provide evidence that sD is a significant risk indicator of later MDE; therefore, individuals with sD represent good targets for preventive interventions. Our review highlights the fact that sD is a significant health problem among adolescents indeed, and adolescents with sD could be a subgroup of youth, who need further help to reduce their clinically significant depressive symptoms for the successful prevention of a later MDE.


Adolescence Subthreshold depression Minor depression Subsyndromal depression Subclinical depression Prevention 



The authors wish to thank Agnes Kereszteny for her diligent help with literature search.

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Semmelweis University, School of Ph.D. StudiesBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Institute of PsychologyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Vadaskert Child and Adolescent Psychiatry HospitalBudapestHungary

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