Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Aims: To examine whether physical health and health-risk behaviours in young people are risk factors for psychological distress and depressive symptoms over a 2-year period. Design/setting: A 2-year, prospective epidemiological cohort study in East London. Participants: A total of 1615 adolescents from the Research with East London Adolescents: Community Health Survey (RELACHS) - a representative cohort of young people aged 11-12 and 13-14 years at baseline, followed-up after 2 years. Measurements: Psychological distress and depressive symptoms identified by the self-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Short Moods and Feelings Questionnaire at baseline and follow-up. Data on overweight/obesity, general health, long-standing illness, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use and drug use were collected from questionnaires completed by the adolescents at baseline and follow-up. Findings: At follow-up, 10.1% of males and 12.9% of females reported psychological distress; 20% of males and 33.7% of females reported depressive symptoms. Having tried drugs or engaged in two or more health-risk behaviours (smoking, alcohol use or drug use) at baseline predicted psychological distress and depressive symptoms at follow-up. Smoking on its own, long-standing illness, obesity/overweight and activity levels were not associated with later psychological health. Risk of poor psychological health at follow-up was associated strongly with psychological health at baseline. Conclusions: Psychological health at baseline was the strongest predictor of psychological health at follow-up. Engaging in two or more health-risk behaviours moderately increased the risk of poor psychological health, suggesting that prevention strategies targeting co-occuring substance use may reduce burden of disease. © 2006 The Authors.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





126 - 135