Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 489–500 | Cite as

Developmental Pathways to Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence: A Multi-Wave Prospective Study of Negative Emotionality, Stressors, and Anxiety

  • Andrea L. BarrocasEmail author
  • Benjamin L. Hankin


This study examined two potential developmental pathways through which the temperament risk factor of negative emotionality (NE) leads to prospective increases in depressive symptoms through the mediating role of stressors and anxious symptoms in a sample of early to middle adolescents (N = 350, 6th–10th graders). The primary hypothesized model was that baseline NE leads to increased stressors, which results in increases in anxious arousal, which culminates with elevated depressive symptoms. An alternate model hypothesized that baseline NE leads to increased anxious arousal, which results in increases in stressors, and this culminates in elevated depressive symptoms. Youth completed self-report measures of NE, stressors, anxious arousal, and depressive symptoms at four time-points. Path analysis supported the primary model and showed that the mediating influence of stressors and anxious arousal explained 78% of the association between NE and prospective elevations in depressive symptoms. The alternate model was not supported. Neither gender nor age were moderators.


Adolescence Depressive symptoms Temperament Developmental pathways 


  1. Abela, J. R., & Hankin, B. L. (2008). Depression in children and adolescents: Causes, treatment, and prevention. In J. R. Abella & B. L. Hankin (Eds.), Handbook of depression and children and adolescents (pp. 6–32). New York: London.Google Scholar
  2. Angold, A., Costello, E. J., & Erkanli, A. (1999). Comorbidity. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 57–87.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arbuckle, J. L. (2007). Amos 16.0 users guide. Spring House: Amos Development Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Arnette, J. J. (1999). Adolescent storm and stress, reconsidered. The American Psychologist, 54, 317–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Avenevoli, S., Stolar, M., Li, J., Dierker, L., & Merikangas, K. R. (2001). Comorbidity of depression in children and adolescents: models and evidence from a prospective high-risk family study. Biological Psychiatry, 49, 1071–1801.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Avenevoli, S., Knight, E., Kessler, R. C., & Merikangas, K. R. (2008). Epidemiology of depression in children and adolescents. In J. R. Abella & B. L. Hankin (Eds.), Handbook of depression and children and adolescents (pp. 6–32). New York: London.Google Scholar
  7. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beesdo, K., Bittner, A., Pine, D. S., Stein, M. B., Dipl-Stat, M. H., Lieb, R., et al. (2007). Incidence of social anxiety disorder and the consistent risk for secondary depression in the first three decades of life. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 903–912.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bolger, N., & Zuckerman, A. (1995). A framework for studying personality in the stress process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 890–902.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carlson, G. A., & Kashani, J. H. (1988). Phenomenology of major depression from childhood through adulthood: analysis of three studies. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 1222–1225.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, L. A., & Watson, D. (1991). Tripartite model of anxiety and depression: psychometric evidence and taxonomic implications. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 316–336.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cole, D. A., & Maxwell, S. E. (2003). Testing mediational models with longitudinal data: questions and tips in the use of structural equation modeling. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 558–577.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cole, D. A., Peeke, L. G., Martin, J. M., Truglio, R., & Seroczynski, A. D. (1998). A longitudinal look at the relation between depression and anxiety in children and adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 451–460.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Curran, P. J., & Willoughby, M. T. (2003). Implications of latent trajectory models for the study of developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 581–612.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eley, T. C., & Stevenson, J. (2000). Specific life events and chronic experiences differentially associated with depression and anxiety in young twins. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 383–394.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Espejo, E. P., Hammen, C. L., Connolly, N. P., Brennan, P. A., Najman, J. M., & Bor, W. (2006). Stress sensitization and adolescent depressive severity as a function of childhood adversity: a link to anxiety disorders. Journal of Abnormal Child Psycology, 35, 287–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Farmer, R. F., & Seeley, J. R. (2009). Temperament and character predictors of depressed mood over a 4-year interval. Depression and Anxiety, 26, 371–381.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grant, K. E., Compas, B. E., Stuhlmacher, A. F., Thurm, A. E., McMahon, S. D., & Halpert, J. A. (2003). Stressors and child and adolescent psychopathology: moving from markers to mechanisms of risk. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 447–466.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hammen, C. (2005). Stress and depression. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 293–319.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hankin, B. L. (2008a). Cognitive vulnerability-stress model of depression during adolescence: investigating depressive symptom specificity in a multi-wave prospective study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 999–1014.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hankin, B. L. (2008b). Rumination and depression in adolescence: investigating symptom specificity in a multiwave prospective study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology, 37, 701–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hankin, B. L. (2010). Personality and depressive symptoms: stress generation and cognitive vulnerabilities to depression in a prospective daily diary study. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29, 369–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hankin, B. L., & Abramson, L. Y. (1999). Development of gender differences in depression: description and possible explanations. Annals of Medicine, 31, 372–379.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hankin, B. L., & Abramson, L. Y. (2001). Development of gender differences in depression: an elaborated cognitive vulnerability-transactional stress theory. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 773–796.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hankin, B. L., & Abramson, L. Y. (2002). Measuring cognitive vulnerability to depression in adolescence: reliability, validity, and gender differences. Journal of Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology, 31, 491–504.Google Scholar
  26. Hankin, B. L., Abramson, L. Y., Moffitt, T. E., Silva, P. A., McGee, R., & Angell, K. E. (1998). Development of depression from preadolescence to young adulthood: emerging gender differences in a 10-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 128–140.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hankin, B. L., Wetter, E., & Cheeley, C. (2008). Sex differences in child and adolescent depression: A developmental psychopathological approach. In J. R. Abella & B. L. Hankin (Eds.), Handbook of depression and children and adolescents (pp. 6–32). New York: London.Google Scholar
  28. Harkness, K. L., & Luther, J. (2001). Clinical risk factors for the generation of life events in major depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 564–572.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hettema, J. M., Kuhn, J. W., Prescott, C. A., & Kendler, K. S. (2006). The impact of generalized anxiety disorder and stressful life events on risk for major depressive episodes. Psychological Medicine, 36, 789–795.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Joiner, T. E., Jr., Wingate, L. R., Gencoz, T., & Gencoz, F. (2005). Stress generation in depression: three studies on its resilience, possible mechanism, and symptom specificity. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24, 236–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kazdin, A. E., French, N. H., & Unis, A. S. (1983). Child, mother, and father evaluation of depression in psychiatric inpatient children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 11, 167–180.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Keenan, K., & Hipwell, A. E. (2005). Preadolescent clues to understanding depression in girls. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 8, 89–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keenan, K., Feng, X., Hipwell, A., & Klostermann, S. (2009). Depression begets depression: comparing the predictive utility of depression and anxiety symptoms to later depression. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 1167–1175.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kendler, K. S., Gardner, C. O., & Prescott, C. A. (2003). Personality and the experience of environmental adversity. Psychological Medicine, 33, 1193–1202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kendler, K. S., Kuhn, J., & Prescott, C. A. (2004). The interrelationship of neuroticism, sex and stressful life events in the prediction of episodes of major depression. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 631–636.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kercher, A. J., Rapee, R. M., & Schniering, C. A. (2009). Neuroticism, life events and negative thoughts in the development of depression in adolescent girls. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 903–915.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kessler, R. C., Gruber, M., Hettema, J. M., Hwang, I., Sampson, N., & Yonkers, K. A. (2008). Co-morbid major depression and generalized anxiety disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey follow-up. Psychological Medicine, 38, 365–374.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Kovacs, M. (1981). Rating scales to assess depression in school children. Acta Paedopsychiatrica, 46, 305–315.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Kovacs, M. (1992). Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI). New York: Multi-health Systems, Inc.Google Scholar
  40. Krueger, R. F. (1999). Personality traits in late adolescence predict mental disorders in early adulthood: a prospective-epidemiological study. Journal of Personality, 67, 39–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Krueger, R. F., & Tackett, J. L. (2003). Personality and psychopathology: working toward the bigger picture. Journal of Personality Disorders, 17, 109–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lahey, B. B. (2009). Public health significance of neuroticism. The American Psychologist, 64, 241–256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lahey, B. B., Applegate, B., Waldman, I. D., Loft, J. D., Hankin, B. L., & Rick, J. (2004). The structure of child and adolescent psychopathology: generating new hypotheses. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113, 358–385.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lakdawalla, Z., & Hankin, B. L. (2008). Personality as a prospective vulnerability to dysphoric symptoms among college students: proposed mechanisms. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 30, 121–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Landis, D., Gaylord-Hayden, N. K., Malinowski, S. L., Grant, K. E., Carleton, R. A., & Ford, R. E. (2007). Urban adolescent stress and hopelessness. Journal of Adolescence, 30, 1051–1070.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lewinsohn, P. M., Hops, H., Roberts, R. E., Seeley, J. R., & Andrews, J. A. (1993). Adolescent psychopathology: I. Prevalence and incidence of depression and other DSM-III-R disorders in high school students. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 133–144.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lonigan, C. J., Vasey, M. W., Phillips, B. M., & Hazen, R. A. (2004). Temperament, anxiety, and the processing of threat-relevant stimuli. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 8–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ma, S. H., & Teasdale, J. D. (2004). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: replication and exploration of differential relapse prevention effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinicial Psychology, 72, 31–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. MacKinnon, D. P. (2008). Introduction to statistical mediation analysis. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  50. MacKinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., & Williams, J. (2004). Confidence limits for the indirect effect: distribution of the product and resampling methods. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 39, 99–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Magnus, K., Diener, E., Fujita, F., & Pavot, W. (1993). Extraversion and neuroticism as predictors of objective life events: a longitudinal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 1046–1053.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Girgus, J. S. (1994). The emergence of gender differences in depression during adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 424–443.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ormel, J., & Wohlfarth, T. (1991). How neuroticism, long-term difficulties, and life situation change influence psychological distress: a longitudinal model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 744–755.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Petersen, A. C., Compas, B. E., Brooks-Gunn, J., Stemmler, M., Ey, S., & Grant, K. E. (1993). Depression in adolescence. The American Psychologist, 48, 155–168.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pine, D. S., Cohen, P., Gurley, D., Brook, J., & Ma, Y. (1998). The risk for early-adulthood anxiety and depressive disorders in adolescents with anxiety and depressive disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 55, 56–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Riskind, J. H., Black, D., & Shahar, G. (2010). Cognitive vulnerability to anxiety in the stress generation process: interaction between the looming cognitive style and anxiety sensitivity. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24, 124–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K., & Fisher, P. (2001). Investigations of temperament at 3 to 7 years: the children’s behavior questionnaire. Child Development, 72, 1394–1408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rudolph, K. D. (2002). Gender differences in emotional responses to interpersonal stress during adolescence. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 30S, 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: new procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422–445.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Silverman, W. K., & Ollendick, T. H. (2005). Evidence-based assessment of anxiety and its disorders in children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 380–411.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. In S. Leinhardt (Ed.), Sociological methodology (pp. 290–312). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  62. Steer, R. A., Clark, D. A., Kumar, G., & Beck, A. (2008). Common and specific dimensions of self-reported anxiety and depression in adolescent outpatients. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 30, 163–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Taylor, A. B., MacKinnon, D. P., & Tein, J. (2008). Tests of the three-path mediated effect. Organizational Research Methods, 11, 241–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., Ridgeway, V. A., Soulsby, J. M., & Lau, M. A. (2000). Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 615–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Uhrlass, D. J., & Gibb, B. E. (2007). Childhood emotional maltreatment and the stress generation model of depression. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 26, 119–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Watson, D. (2005). Rethinking the mood and anxiety disorders: a quantitative hierarchical model for DSM-V. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 522–536.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Watson, D., Weber, K., Assenheimer, J. S., Clark, L. A., Strauss, M. E., & McCormick, R. A. (1995). Testing a tripartite model: I. Evaluating the convergent and discriminant validity of anxiety and depression scales. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 3–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Weiss, B., & Garber, J. (2003). Developmental differences in the phenomenology of depression. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 403–430.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wetter, E. K., & Hankin, B. L. (2009). Mediational pathways through which positive and negative emotionality contribute to anhedonic symptoms of depression: a prospective study of adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 507–520.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wills, T. A., Windle, M., & Cleary, S. D. (1998). Temperament and novelty seeking in adolescent substance use: convergence of dimensions of temperament with constructs from Cloninger’s theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 387–406.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Yang, H., Chiu, Y., Soong, W., & Chen, W. J. (2008). The roles of personality traits and negative life events on the episodes of depressive symptoms in nonreferred adolescents: a 1-year follow-up study. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 378–385.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zahn-Waxler, C. (2000). The development of empathy, guild and internalization of distress: Implications for gender differences in internalizing and externalizing problems. In R. Davidson (Ed.), Anxiety, depression, and emotion (pp. 222–265). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations