Prevalence, symptomatology, and risk factors for depression among high school students in Saudi Arabia


  • Moataz M. Abdel-Fattah
  • Abdel-Rahman A. Asal


Hypothesis: Most studies of depressed mood and its correlates in adolescents have been conducted in Western countries. The present large scale epidemiological study was designed to assess the prevalence and pattern of depression in a secondary school sample of Saudi Arabia adolescents.
Methods: A Cross-sectional survey, using the Arabic Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI), by a team consisting of a psychiatrist and psychologist has been conducted.
Participants: Secondary school students (n = 490, 306 males “62.4 %” and 184 females “37.6 %”) of age group from (16 to 20).
Results: The prevalence of depression according to the Beck Depression Inventory (CBDI) (cut-off point: 19) was 110 (22.4 %) as moderate (19-29), 36 (7.3 %) as severe (30-40), and 18 (3.7%) as very severe (> 40) in this study group, with a clear predominance prevalence of depression in girls than in boys (1.5 times).
Multivariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated that the most significant risk factors involved were: sex, birth order, history of psychiatric illness, history of relative loss, and familial history of chronic diseases. Factor analysis revealed that self criticalness, agitation, and loss of energy had the highest scores in the total sample. In the male subgroup, loss of energy, self criticalness, punishment feeling and agitation had the highest score while in the female subgroup, self criticalness, agitation, and crying had the highest scores.
Conclusion: Our findings provide gender differences in the prevalence and presentation of depressive symptoms. The experience of a stressful life events increase the risk of depression. Assessment using screening is recommended. The increased risk for the onset of depression in adolescents reinforces the importance of early recognition and intervention.