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Physical activity and depression from childhood to young adulthood

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McKercher, CM (2012) Physical activity and depression from childhood to young adulthood. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Background: The trajectory from childhood to early adulthood is a critical
developmental period when physical activity levels decline and depression risk
increases. Epidemiological research indicates that physical activity is associated with
decreased risk of depression however population-based studies examining the
relationship between physical activity and depression from childhood to young
adulthood are scant. Determining the efficacy of physical activity in the prevention of
depression during this pivotal life stage would be an important advance in public
health.
Aims: To investigate i) cross-sectional associations between physical activity and
depressed mood in childhood; ii) cross-sectional associations between physical activity
and depression, and depressive symptomatology in young adulthood; and iii)
prospective associations between habitual physical activity from childhood to
adulthood and risk of depression in young adulthood.
Methods: This dissertation utilises data from the Childhood Determinants of Adult
Health study, a population-based prospective cohort study from Australia. Baseline
data were collected from 6,070 school children participating in the 1985 Australian
Schools Health and Fitness Survey, aged 9 to 15 years. Participants were followed-up
in young adulthood approximately 20-years later (2004-2006), aged 26 to 36 years.
Physical activity was assessed at both time-points via self-report and objectively at
follow-up using pedometers. Depressed mood was self-reported at baseline and
DSM-IV depression assessed at follow-up using the Composite International
Diagnostic Interview.
Results: In childhood, increasing durations of school physical education in primary
girls and increasing durations of total physical activity and discretionary sport in
secondary boys were associated with decreased prevalence of depressed mood. In
young adulthood, increasing ambulatory (pedometer steps/day) and leisure-time
physical activity were associated with a decreased prevalence of depression. Increasing
work-related physical activity was associated with increased prevalence of depression
vi
in women only. Depression in physically low/inactive young men and women was
characterised by a unique depression symptom profile involving a higher prevalence
of suicidal symptomatology. Finally, increasing or maintaining high levels of habitual
discretionary physical activity from childhood to adulthood relative to one’s peers was
prospectively associated with a decreased risk of depression in young adulthood.
Conclusions: The relationship between physical activity and depression in childhood
and young adulthood appears to differ by gender, the type of activity and the domain
in which it is assessed. Inverse associations between physical activity and depression
appear to depend on physical activity being discretionary rather than nondiscretionary,
particularly in women. Results suggest that population-based strategies
aimed at maintaining physical activity participation from childhood and initiating
physical activity in young people have potential for reducing the morbidity and
subsequent treatment burden of depression.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: childhood, depression, epidemiology, physical activity, young adulthood
Additional Information:

Copyright 2012 the Author

Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2012 04:40
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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