Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 579–593 | Cite as

Identifying Trajectories of Adolescents’ Depressive Phenomena: An Examination of Early Risk Factors

  • James J. MazzaEmail author
  • Charles B. Fleming
  • Robert D. Abbott
  • Kevin P. Haggerty
  • Richard F. Catalano
Empirical research


Few studies have examined risk factors of childhood and early adolescent depressive symptomatology trajectories. This study examined self-report depressive symptomatology across a 6-year time period from 2nd to 8th grade to identify latent groups of individuals with similar patterns of depressive phenomena in a sample of 951 children (440 girls, 511 boys). Analyses, using semiparametric group modeling (SGM), identified 5 trajectory groups for girls and boys: low depressed stables, low depressed risers, mildly depressed stables, moderately depressed changers, and moderately depressed risers. Individual risk factors, with the exception of shy/withdrawn behavior, were significantly different across trajectory group membership for boys and girls, as was low-income status for boys. Boys in the low depressed and mildly depressed stable trajectory groups had significantly higher levels of antisocial behavior, attention problems, and lower social competency compared to girls in similar groups. These results suggest that universal prevention programs implemented in early elementary school that target selected risk factors may be helpful in reducing future adolescent mental health problems, specifically depressive symptomatology.


Trajectories Children’s depression Early risk factors 



Work on this paper was supported by Grant #R001 DA08093-14 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health. The authors gratefully acknowledge the staff, families, and students of the participating project schools in Edmonds School District #15 for their support and cooperation in the Raising Healthy Children project. We also wish to thank Jisuk Park and Tracy W. Harachi for their contributions on earlier drafts of this paper. Richard F. Catalano is on the board of the Channing Bete Company, distributor of Guiding Good Choices ® and Supporting School Success ®. These programs were tested in the intervention described in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James J. Mazza
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charles B. Fleming
    • 2
  • Robert D. Abbott
    • 1
  • Kevin P. Haggerty
    • 2
  • Richard F. Catalano
    • 2
  1. 1.Educational PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Social Development Research Group, School of Social WorkUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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