Examining interpersonal and cognitive factors associated with adolescent depressive symptomatology: a comparison of clinically depressed, subsyndromal, and normal control youth

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2004

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Hamff, Allison Lynne

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Abstract

Depression, one of the most common mental disorders in adolescence, appears to be becoming an increasingly prevalent disorder in our society. In fact, it is speculated that early-onset depression has an even poorer and more protracted prognosis than depressive disorders that emerge during adulthood (Weller & Weller, 1991). Thus, considering the numerous difficulties associated with adult depression, it can be stated without reservation that depressive disorders in youth present a serious public health problem (Leon et al., 1993; Prosser & McArdle, 1996). Although much is known about depression in youth, the subclinically depressed population is not yet well understood. The current study is an exploratory investigation that seeks to provide a clearer picture of subclinical depression in adolescents, as well as a more thorough understanding of certain psychosocial factors associated with depression in adolescent populations. Specifically, the present study examined potential group differences and similarities between youth with clinical depression, subclinical depression, and youth exhibiting no depressive symptomatology. A variety of familial interpersonal variables, as perceived by the adolescents, namely cohesion, expressiveness, conflict, and critical maternal communication style, and their relationship to depressive symptomatology in these three diagnostic groups were examined. Additionally, associations between both familial and peer social support, also as perceived by adolescents, and depressive symptomatology were explored. Furthermore, youth’s perceptions of the self, world, and future, which together comprise the cognitive triad, were also examined. The identification of potential psychosocial variables on which depressive disorders and subclinical depression differ and are similar is an important task. In doing so, researchers will contribute to the development of better informed early intervention and prevention efforts designed to reduce the duration, severity, and associated complications of this disorder.

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