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Catastrophizing As a Predictor of Depressive and Anxious Symptoms in Children

Abstract

This study assessed the predictive relationship between catastrophizing and depressive symptoms, when controlling for anxiety, amongst 231 third-, fifth-, and seventh-grade children. Hopelessness theory of depression posits that the diathesis of consistently generating catastrophic inferences to the consequences of a negative event can lead to hopelessness depression. Catastrophizing is often observed in anxiety, yet no prior study has controlled for anxiety when studying this cognitive risk factor for depression in the context of hopelessness theory. Results replicated previous findings amongst youth aged 7–13, such that a significant relationship was observed between depressive symptoms and catastrophizing; this relationship remained significant in the full sample after controlling for anxiety. However, the relationship between catastrophizing and depression differed by grade such that, after controlling for anxiety, catastrophizing was predictive of depressive symptoms amongst third-grade but not fifth- or seventh-grade children. The inclusion of the anxiety construct in hopelessness theory may enhance current conceptualizations of the changing nature of depression across development.

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Correspondence to Sarah E. Francis.

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Noël, V.A., Francis, S.E., Williams-Outerbridge, K. et al. Catastrophizing As a Predictor of Depressive and Anxious Symptoms in Children. Cogn Ther Res 36, 311–320 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-011-9370-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-011-9370-2

Keywords

  • Hopelessness theory
  • Depression
  • Catastrophizing
  • Anxiety
  • Children