A new study from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Georgia Regents University shows that female teenagers living in rural areas may be more likely than males to have undiagnosed depression and asthma.

According to a Medical Daily news report, the study was based on data that had been gathered during a 3-year trial of an asthma program targeting teenagers. The results showed that while the prevalence of both diagnosed and undiagnosed asthma was the same in both city and rural areas, more girls had undiagnosed asthma than boys.

Jeana Bush, MD, lead author of the study, says, “There’s a lot of speculation about why females are more likely to be undiagnosed [for asthma]. Maybe it’s because boys are more likely to get a sports physical for athletics and they catch it then. Or maybe it’s because girls attribute asthma symptoms to something else, like anxiety. That needs further study.”

The study also found that teens living in rural area, regardless of gender, were more likely to have depression than the national average. Bush states, “The overall percentage of depression is higher than has been shown in the literature for other chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, congenital heart disease, and even among cancer survivors,” Bush said in the press release. “That was staggering.”

One possible factor for the higher rates of asthma and depression among teens in rural areas is the prevalence of smoking in these areas. Also, Bush explains, “[A]dolescents who are depressed may be less likely to talk about their symptoms or may attribute them to something else. And so much of asthma treatment is about self-management — figuring out your symptoms and preventing an attack when you recognize those symptoms.”

Bush adds, “If you’re depressed, you are less likely to be aware of and have the ability to interpret those symptoms.”

Source: Medical Daily