Investigation of anxiety symptoms in a cognitive-stress mediational model of depression in early adolescent girls
Previous research indicates an increase in the prevalence of depression around adolescence, especially for females. Research suggests depressogenic cognitions play an essential role in the development of depression and may mediate the relation between risk factors and depression. Research has also shown the family environment, negative life events, and maternal depression are all related to the development of depressogenic cognitions. Additionally, few studies have tested models of depression while measuring both anxiety and depressive symptoms despite the high rates of comorbidity between the two disorders. The current study used path analytic techniques to integrate correlates of depression while accounting for comorbid anxiety symptoms in comprehensive model of depression for early adolescent girls. Participants included 203 girls, aged 9-14, along with their mothers. Participants completed self-report measures of the family environment, cognitive triad, and negative life events. Mothers of participants completed a self-report measure of psychopathology. Participants also completed a semi-structured diagnostic interview, which served as the measure for symptoms of depression and anxiety. Results supported previous literature finding a more depressogenic cognitive triad was significantly associated with higher depressive severity. Family environments, characterized by more cohesive and less conflictual family relationships, more communication, and higher engagement in social/recreational activities, were significantly associated with a more positive cognitive triad. Additionally, more negative life events were significantly associated with a more depressogenic cognitive triad. Both family social/recreational activities and negative life events had significant indirect effects on depression. Results indicated a strong relation between anxiety and depression, with anxiety having a significant positive direct effect on depression. The pathways from maternal depression and anxiety to the cognitive triad, anxiety symptoms to the cognitive triad, as well as family environment variables, maternal depression and anxiety and negative life events to anxiety symptoms were not found to be significant. Results from an exploratory analysis suggest anxiety may moderate the relation between the cognitive triad and depression. Implications of these results, limitations, and recommendations for future research are provided.