, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 683-697

Parent and peer attachment in early adolescent depression

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Abstract

Insecure attachment relations have been theorized to play a significant role in the development of depressogenic modes of adaptation and to thus form a vulnerability factor for the emergence of depressive disorder in children. This study examined security of parent and peer attachment among four groups of early adolescents: clinically depressed, nondepressed psychiatric controls, nonpsychiatric controls, and adolescents with resolved depression. Depressed adolescents reported significantly less secure parent attachment than either of the control groups, and less secure peer attachment than the nonpsychiatric control group. Attachment security of adolescents with resolved depression was on a par with the nonpsychiatric control group. Among all psychiatric patients, security of attachment to parents was negatively correlated with severity of depression according to interview and selfreport ratings. Less secure attachment to parents, but generally not to peers, was also related to more maladaptive attributional styles, presence of separation anxiety disorder, and history of suicidal ideation.

This project was supported by National Institute of Mental Health grant 2 ROI MH 37055 and Biomedical Research Support Grants, Division of Research Resources, National Institutes of Health, from Children's Hospital and Medical Center (62507 RR05655) and the University of Washington School of Medicine. The authors thank Dr. Rose Calderon for assistance with data analyses and Mr. Hal Ferdig for preparation of the manuscript.