Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 91–103 | Cite as

Interaction of Biological Stress Recovery and Cognitive Vulnerability for Depression in Adolescence

  • Benjamin G. ShaperoEmail author
  • George McClung
  • Debra A. Bangasser
  • Lyn Y. Abramson
  • Lauren B. Alloy
Empirical Research


Major Depressive Disorder is a common mental illness with rates increasing during adolescence. This has led researchers to examine developmental antecedents of depression. This study examined the association between depressive symptoms and the interaction between two empirically supported risk factors for depression: poor recovery of the biological stress system as measured through heart rate and cortisol, and cognitive vulnerabilities as indexed by rumination and a negative cognitive style. Adolescents (n = 127; 49 % female) completed questionnaires and a social stress task to elicit a stress response measured with neuroendocrine (cortisol) and autonomic nervous system (heart rate) endpoints. The findings indicated that higher depressive symptoms were associated with the combination of higher cognitive vulnerabilities and lower cortisol and heart rate recovery. These findings can enhance our understanding of stress responses, lead to personalized treatment, and provide a nuanced understanding of depression in adolescence.


Adolescence Depression Cortisol Heart rate Recovery Cognitive vulnerability 



This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants MH79369 and MH101168 to Lauren B. Alloy and MH099764 to Benjamin G. Shapero.

Authors’ Contributions

BGS conceived of the study, obtained funding, collected the data, performed statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript; GM analyzed the biological data and drafted a section of the manuscript; DB participated in the design of the study, oversaw the biological analysis and helped draft and review the manuscript; LYA obtained funding for the original study and helped review the manuscript; LBA participated in the design and coordination of the study, obtained the funding for the original study, and reviewed multiple drafts of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors Benjamin G. Shapero, George McClung, Debra A. Bangasser, Lyn Y. Abramson, and Lauren B. Alloy declare that they have no conflict of interest or other financial disclosures. This manuscript presents findings that have not been previously published or submitted elsewhere.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin G. Shapero
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • George McClung
    • 1
    • 4
  • Debra A. Bangasser
    • 1
    • 4
  • Lyn Y. Abramson
    • 5
  • Lauren B. Alloy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Neuroscience ProgramTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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