Life events, coping and depressive symptoms among young adolescents: A one-year prospective study
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Background: To investigate prospectively over one year, the extent to which greater exposure to negative life events, greater use of more negative coping strategies, and less use of positive coping strategies and an optimistic thinking style, predicts the onset of depressive symptoms among adolescents. Methods: A prospective longitudinal study of 5,634 adolescents (Mean Age=13.1, SD=0.5) enrolled in Year 8 at secondary school. Standard questionnaires were used to assess depressive symptoms and the predictor variables. Results: Over a one-year period, there was an independent and statistically significant relationship between transition to a CES-D score above the recommended cut-off score and i) greater exposure to negative life events and use of negative coping strategies, and ii) less use of positive coping strategies and an optimistic thinking style. Among males who experienced a higher number of negative life events, the impact on depressive symptoms was greater among those who made more use of negative coping strategies. Limitations: Self-report questionnaires completed by adolescents were employed to evaluate all the variables in the study. Only two assessment points were available. Ten percent of adolescents did not complete the follow-up assessment. Conclusions: Particularly among females, early adolescence is marked by increased susceptibility to depressive symptoms. Helping young adolescents to adopt more positive coping strategies and optimistic thinking styles may reduce their risk for the onset of depressive symptoms. This may be particularly important for young males who experience high levels of adverse life events and utilise negative coping strategies.
Journal of Affective Disorders
Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology