Self-esteem and other risk factors for depressive symptoms among adolescents in United Arab Emirates

Syed M. Shah, Fatima Al Dhaheri, Ammar Albanna, Najla Al Jaberi, Shaikha Al Eissaee, Nouf Ahmed Alshehhi, Shamma A. Al Shamisi, Maryam M. Al Hamez, Said Y. Abdelrazeq, Michal Grivna, Theresa S. Betancourt

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Background Little is known about depressive symptoms among adolescents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This study aimed to identify the prevalence of depression and its association with self-esteem, individual, parental and family factors among adolescents aged 12 to 18 in UAE. Methods Six hundred adolescents, aged 12 to 18 years were recruited from 4 of 111 schools in a cross-sectional study. We administered Beck Depression Inventory Scale and Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale to measure self-report symptoms of depression and self-esteem. We used multiple linear regression to identify significant predictors of depression. Results Over 86% of the identified sample participated to the survey. The mean age of the sample was 14.3 (±1.3) with an excess of girls (61%). Depressive symptoms were detected in 17.2% (95% CI 14.2–20.7). There was an inverse relationship between self-esteem scores and depressive symptoms. Positive predictors of depressive symptoms, having controlled for age, gender, and ethnicity included experiencing neglect, being verbally abused in school, having no monthly allowance to spend in school, a history of physical morbidities requiring treatment, being a current or past smoker and a low family income. Conclusion The high prevalence of depressive symptoms measured in this survey suggests a significant public health problem among adolescents in the UAE. Public health interventions aimed at facilitating education and early detection and potential treatment of depressive symptoms are a priority in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0227483
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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