Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 43, Issue 8, pp 1403–1413 | Cite as

Moderate Childhood Stress Buffers Against Depressive Response to Proximal Stressors: A Multi-Wave Prospective Study of Early Adolescents

  • Benjamin G. Shapero
  • Jessica L. Hamilton
  • Jonathan P. Stange
  • Richard T. Liu
  • Lyn Y. Abramson
  • Lauren B. Alloy


Although the majority of research in the field has focused on childhood stressors as a risk factor for psychopathology, a burgeoning body of literature has focused on the possible steeling effect of moderate types of stressful events. The current study investigated the effects of proximal life stressors on prospective changes in depressive symptoms, and whether a history of moderate childhood adversity would moderate this relationship in a multi-wave study of a diverse community sample of early adolescents (N = 163, 52 % female, 51 % Caucasian). Hierarchical linear modeling was run with four waves of data. Adolescents with greater moderately severe early life events evinced a blunted depressive symptom response to changes in proximal stressful events in the previous 9 months, compared to those with fewer early moderately severe experiences of adversity. These results held after controlling for between-subject factors such as race, gender, severe early life stress, and average stress over the four waves of data. Findings indicate that greater exposure to moderate childhood stressors may buffer against the negative effects of subsequent stressors, suggesting the importance of a nuanced developmental approach to studying the effects of early life stress.


Early life stress Depression Attenuated stress response Buffering Steeling Resilience 



This work was supported, in part, by NIMH grants MH48216 to Lauren B. Alloy and MH43866 to Lyn Y. Abramson. Manuscript preparation was supported by NIMH grant MH099764 to Benjamin G. Shapero. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin G. Shapero
    • 1
  • Jessica L. Hamilton
    • 1
  • Jonathan P. Stange
    • 1
  • Richard T. Liu
    • 2
  • Lyn Y. Abramson
    • 3
  • Lauren B. Alloy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Butler HospitalBrown University Alpert Medical SchoolProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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