*The following is excerpted from an online article from HealthDay.
Youngsters who enter puberty early are at increased risk for depression, a new study suggests.
Early puberty was linked with a number of factors associated with depression, such as poor self-image and high anxiety levels, according to the researchers. Early puberty was also linked to social problems, such as conflict with family and peers, and having friends who were prone to getting into trouble, the study found.
Although the study found an association between early puberty and these factors, it's important to note that the study wasn't designed to show that early puberty was the cause of these issues.
"Only some teens are vulnerable to the effects of early maturation, particularly those with more disruption in their families and less support in their peer relationships," study leader Karen Rudolph, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, said in a university news release.
The study also found that early puberty was associated with an increased risk of depression in boys as well as girls.
"It is often believed that going through puberty earlier than peers only contributes to depression in girls," Rudolph said. "We found that early maturation can also be a risk for boys as they progress through adolescence, but the timing is different than in girls," she added.
Initially, boys who entered puberty early had much lower rates of depression than girls, but had similar rates by the end of the study's fourth year.
The study followed 160 youth for four years. It was published online in the journal Development and Psychopathology.