Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 36, Issue 8, pp 1189–1198 | Cite as

Patterns of Adolescent Depression to Age 20: The Role of Maternal Depression and Youth Interpersonal Dysfunction

  • Constance Hammen
  • Patricia A. Brennan
  • Danielle Keenan-Miller


Considerable research has focused on youth depression, but further information is needed to characterize different patterns of onset and recurrence during adolescence. Four outcome groups by age 20 were defined (early onset-recurrent, early-onset-desisting, later-onset, never depressed) and compared on three variables predictive of youth depression: gender, maternal depression, and interpersonal functioning. Further, it was hypothesized that the association between maternal depression and youth depression between 15 and 20 is mediated by early-onset depression and interpersonal dysfunction by age 15. Eight hundred sixteen community youth selected for depression risk by history (or absence) of maternal depression were interviewed at age 15, and 699 were included in the 5-year follow-up. Controlling for gender, early onset and interpersonal dysfunction mediated the link between maternal depression and late adolescent major depression. Different patterns for males and females were observed. For males maternal depression’s effect was mediated by early onset but not interpersonal difficulties, while for females maternal depression’s effect was mediated by interpersonal difficulties but not early onset. Maternal depression did not predict first onset of major depression after age 15. The results suggest the need for targeting the impact of maternal depression’s gender-specific effects on early youth outcomes, and also highlight the different patterns of major depression in youth and their likely implications for future course of depression.


Adolescent depression Maternal depression Recurrent depression Interpersonal dysfunction Gender 


  1. Achenbach, T. (1991). Integrative guide to the 1991 CBCL, YSR, and TRF. Burlington: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  2. Arnett, J. J. (1999). Adolescent storm and stress, reconsidered. American Psychologist, 54, 317–326.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bardone, A., Moffitt, T., Caspi, A., Dickson, N., & Silva, P. (1996). Adult mental health and social outcomes of adolescent girls with depression and conduct disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 811–829.Google Scholar
  4. 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
  5. Beardslee, W. R., Versage, E. M., & Gladstone, T. R. (1998). Children of affectively ill parents: A review of the past 10 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 1134–1141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Birmaher, B., Williamson, D. E., Dahl, R. E., Axelson, D. A., Kaufman, J., Dorn, L. D., et al. (2004). Clinical presentation and course of depression in youth: Does onset in childhood differ from onset in adolescence? Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43, 63–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bland, R. C., Newman, S. C., & Orn, H. (1986). Recurrent and nonrecurrent depression: A family study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 43(11), 1085–1089.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brennan, P., Hammen, C., Katz, A., & LeBrocque, R. (2002). Maternal depression, paternal psychopathology, and adolescent diagnostic outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 1075–1085.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Costello, E. J., Mustillo, S., Erklani, A., Keeler, G., & Angold, A. (2003). Prevalence and development of psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60, 837–844.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Daley, S. E., Hammen, C., & Rao, U. (2000). Predictors of first onset and recurrence of major depression in young women during the 5 years following high school graduation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 525–533.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dekker, M., Ferdinand, R., van Lang, N., Bongers, I., van der Ende, J., & Verhulst, F. (2007). Developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms form early childhood to later adolescence. Gender differences and adult outcomes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 657–666.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dunn, V., & Goodyer, I. (2006). Longitudinal investigation into childhood- and adolescence-onset depression: Psychiatric outcome in early adulthood. British Journal of Psychiatry, 188, 216–222.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Essau, C. A. (2004). The association between family factors and depressive disorders in adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33, 365–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (1995). Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders. Washington: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fleming, J. E., Boyle, M. H., & Offord, D. R. (1993). The outcome of adolescent depression in the ontario child health study follow-up. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 32, 28–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goodman, S., & Gotlib, I. (1999). Risk for psychopathology in the children of depressed mothers: A developmental model for understanding mechanisms of transmission. Psychological Review, 106, 458–490.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hammen, C. (2008). Stress exposure and stress generation in adolescent depression. In S. Nolen-Hoeksema & L. Hilt (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent depression. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (in press).Google Scholar
  18. Hammen, C., Adrian, C., Gordon, D., Burge, D., Jaenicke, C., & Hiroto, D. (1987). Children of depressed mothers: Maternal strain and symptom predictors of dysfunction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 96, 190–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hammen, C., & Brennan, P. (2001). Depressed adolescents of depressed and nondepressed mothers: Tests of an interpersonal impairment hypothesis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 284–294.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hammen, C., & Brennan, C. (2002). Interpersonal dysfunction in depressed women: Impairments independent of depressive symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders, 72, 145–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hammen, C., Brennan, P., Keenan-Miller, D., & Herr, N. (2008). Early onset recurrent subtype of adolescent depression: Clinical and psychosocial correlates. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(4), 433–440.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hammen, C., Shih, J., & Brennan, P. (2004). Intergenerational transmission of depression: Test of an interpersonal stress model in a community sample. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 511–522.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 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
  24. Hankin, B. L., Mermelstein, R., & Roesch, L. (2007). Sex differences in adolescent depression: Stress exposure and reactivity models in interpersonal and achievement contextual domains. Child Development, 78, 279–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harrington, R., Fudge, H., Rutter, M., Pickles, A., & Hill, J. (1990). Adult outcomes of childhood and adolescent depression: Psychiatric status. Archives of General Psychiatry, 47, 465–473.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Harrington, R., Rutter, M., & Fombonne, E. (1996). Developmental pathways in depression: Multiple meanings, antecedents, and endpoints. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 601–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jaffee, S. R., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Fombonne, E., Poulton, R., & Martin, J. (2002). Differences in early childhood risk factors for juvenile-onset and adult-onset depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 215–222.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Keeping, J. D., Najman, J. M., Morrison, J., Western, J. S., Andersen, M. J., & Williams, G. M. (1989). A prospective longitudinal study of social, psychological, and obstetrical factors in pregnancy: Response rates and demographic characteristics of the 8,556 respondents. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 96, 289–297.Google Scholar
  29. Kessler, R. C., & Walters, E. E. (1998). Epidemiology of DSM-III-R major depression and minor depression among adolescents and young adults in the National Comorbidity Survey. Depression and Anxiety, 7, 3–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Klein, D., Lewinsohn, P., Rohde, P., Seeley, J., & Olino, T. (2005). Psychopathology in the adolescent and young adult offspring of a community sample of mothers and fathers with major depression. Psychological Medicine, 35, 353–365.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kovacs, M. (2001). Gender and the course of major depressive disorder through adolescence in clinically referred youngsters. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 1079–1085.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lakdawalla, Z., Hankin, B. L., & Mermelstein, R. (2007). Cognitive theories of depression in children and adolescents: A conceptual and quantitative review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 10, 1–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 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
  34. Lewinsohn, P. M., Rohde, P., Klein, D. N., & Seeley, J. R. (1999). Natural course of adolescent major depressive disorder: I. Continuity into young adulthood. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 56–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lewinsohn, P. M., Rohde, P., & Seeley, J. R. (1998). Major depressive disorder in older adolescents: Prevalence, risk factors, and clinical implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 18, 765–794.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lewinsohn, P. M., Rohde, P., Seeley, J. R., Klein, D. N., & Gotlib, I. H. (2000). Natural course of adolescent major depressive disorder in a community sample: Predictors of recurrence in young adults. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 1584–1591.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lieb, R., Isensee, B., Hofler, M., & Wittchen, H.-U. (2002). Parental depression and depression in offspring: Evidence for familial characteristics and subtypes? Journal of Psychiatric Research, 36, 237–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lovejoy, C. M., Graczyk, P. A., O’Hare, E., & Neuman, G. (2000). Maternal depression and parenting behavior: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 20, 561–592.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Marazita, M. L., Neiswanger, K., Cooper, M., Zubenko, G., Giles, D. E., Frank, E., et al. (1997). Genetic segregation analysis of early-onset recurrent unipolar depression. American Journal of Human Genetics, 61, 1370–1378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Marmorstein, N., Malone, S., & Iacono, W. (2004). Psychiatric disorders among offspring of depressed mothers: Associations with paternal psychopathology. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1588–1594.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 4, 674–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998). Mplus User’s Guide. Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  43. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. N., & Girgus, J. S. (1994). The emergence of gender differences in depression during adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 424–443.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Orvaschel, H. (1995). Schedule for affective disorder and schizophrenia for school-age children- epidemiologic version-5. Ft. Lauderdale: Center for Psychological Studies, Nova Southeastern University.Google Scholar
  45. Pine, D. S., Cohen, P., Gurley, D., Brook, J. S., & 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
  46. Rao, U. (2006). Development and natural history of pediatric depression: Treatment implications. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 3, 194–204.Google Scholar
  47. Rao, U., Hammen, C., & Daley, S. (1999). Continuity of depression during the transition to adulthood: A 5-year longitudinal study of young women. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 908–915.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rohde, P. L., Lewinsohn, P. M., Klein, D. N., & Seeley, J. R. (2005). Association of parental depression with psychiatric course from adolescence to young adulthood among formerly depressed individuals. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 409–420.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rudolph, K. D. (2002). Gender differences in emotional responses to interpersonal stress during adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health, 30, 3–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rudolph, K. D., Flynn, M., & Abaied, J. L. (2007). A developmental perspective on interpersonal theories of youth depression. To appear in J. R. Z. Abela & B. L. Hankin (Eds.), Child and adolescent depression: Causes, treatment, and prevention (pp. 79–102). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  51. Rudolph, K., Hammen, C., & Burge, D. (1994). Interpersonal functioning and depressive symptoms in childhood: Addressing the issues of specificity and comorbidity. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 22, 355–371.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rudolph, K., Hammen, C., & Burge, D. (1997). A cognitive-interpersonal approach to depressive symptoms in preadolescent children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25, 33–45.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rudolph, K., Hammen, C., & Daley, S. (2006). Adolescent mood disorders. In E. J. Mash, & D. A. Wolfe (Eds.), Behavioral and Emotional Disorders in Adolescence (pp. 300–342). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  54. Rutter, M., Kim-Cohen, J., & Maughan, B. (2006). Continuities and discontinuities in psychopathology between childhood and adult life. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 276–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Shih, J. H., Eberhart, N. K., Hammen, C. L., & Brennan, P. A. (2006). Differential exposure and reactivity to interpersonal stress predict sex differences in adolescent depression. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35, 103–115.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Silberg, J. L., Rutter, M., & Eaves, L. (2001). Genetic and environmental influences on the temporal association between earlier anxiety and later depression in girls. Biological Psychiatry, 49, 1040–1049.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stoolmiller, M., Kim, H. K., & Capaldi, M. (2005). The course of depressive symptoms in men from early adolescence to young adulthood: Identifying latent trajectories and early predictors. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 331–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Weissman, M. M., Warner, V., Wickramaratne, P., Moreau, D., & Olfson, M. (1997). Offspring of depressed parents: 10 years later. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 932–940.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Weissman, M. M., Warner, V., Wickramaratne, P., Nomura, Y., Warner, V., Pilowsky, D., & Verdeli, H. (2006). Offspring of depressed parents: 20 years later. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 1001–1008.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Weissman, M. M., Wolk, S., Goldstein, R. B., Moreau, D., Adams, P., Greenwald, S., et al. (1999). Depressed adolescents grown up. Journal of the American Medical Association, 281, 1707–1713.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constance Hammen
    • 1
  • Patricia A. Brennan
    • 2
  • Danielle Keenan-Miller
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Emory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.University of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations