Skip to main content

Risk and Protective Predictors of Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents from Immigrant Backgrounds

Abstract

Although there has been an increasing number of studies that has examined depression among adolescents from immigrant backgrounds, findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting that immigrant status is associated with risk, while others report that immigration status is linked to adequate or positive outcomes. Thus, it is important to explore how underlying predictors contribute to trajectories of depressive symptoms among adolescents from immigrant backgrounds. Using data from a nationally representative Canadian sample (N = 1,060; aged 12 to 23; 48.9% female), this longitudinal study examined the effects of risk and protective factors on trajectories of depressive symptoms using multilevel modeling. Predictors of depressive symptoms tended to be protective and suggest a universal positive influence of self-esteem, positive peer relationships, and parent–child cohesion. Host language proficiency was predictive of greater increases in depressive symptoms over time. Findings highlight the value of promoting protective factors and aspects of one’s heritage among immigrant adolescents.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  • Ahmed, N. (2005). Integenerational impact of immigrants’ selection and assimilation on health outcomes of children (No. 11F0019). Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arcia, E., Skinner, M., Bailey, D., & Correa, V. (2001). Models of acculturation and health behaviors among Latino immigrants to the US. Social Science and Medicine, 53, 41–53.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aroian, K. J., & Norris, A. E. (2003). Depression trajectories in relatively recent immigrants. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 44, 420–427.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baribeau, B., Wedseltoft, C., & Franklin, S. (2007). Battling attrition in the national longitudinal survey of children and youth. In Proceedings of the annual meeting of the survey methods section, June 2001.

  • Becker, G. S. (1981). A treatise on the family. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. (Enlarged ed., 1991).

  • Beiser, M., Hou, F., Hyman, I., & Tousignant, M. (2002). Poverty, family process, and the mental health of immigrant children in Canada. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 220–227.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berry, J. W., Phinney, J. S., Kwak, K., & Sam, D. L. (2006). Introduction: Goals and research framework for studying immigrant youth. In J. W. Berry, J. S. Phinney, D. L. Sam, & P. Vedder (Eds.), Immigrant youth in cultural transition: Acculturation, identity, and adaptation across national contexts (pp. 1–14). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berry, J. W., & Sam, D. L. (1997). Acculturation and adaptation. In J. W. Berry, M. H. Segall, & C. Kagitcibasi (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural psychology (pp. 291–326). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bryk, A. S., & Raudenbush, S. W. (1992). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Byles, J., Byrne, C., Boyle, M. H., & Offord, D. R. (1988). Ontario child health study: Reliability and validity of the general functioning subscale of the McMaster family assessment device. Family Process, 27, 97–104.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cabrera, N. J., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Bradley, R. H., Hofferth, S., & Lamb, M. E. (2000). Fatherhood in the twenty-first century. Child Development, 71, 127–136.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Canadian Council on Social Development. (2006). The progress of Canada’s children and youth. Ottawa, ON: CCSD.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chui, T., Tran, K., & Maheux, H. (2007). Immigration in Canada: A portrait of the foreign-born population, 2006 census No. 97-557-XIE). Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cicchetti, D., & Rogosch, F. A. (2002). A developmental psychopathology perspective on adolescence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 6–20.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Curran, P. J. (2003). Have multilevel models been structural equation models all along? Multivariate Behavioral Research, 38, 529–569.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Franck, E., & De Raedt, R. (2007). Self-esteem reconsidered: Unstable self-esteem outperforms level of self-esteem as vulnerability marker for depression. Behavior Research and Therapy, 45, 1531–1541.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garber, J., Keiley, M. K., & Martin, N. C. (2002). Developmental trajectories of adolescents’ depressive symptoms. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 79–95.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garcia-Coll, C., Crnic, K., Lamberty, G., & Wasik, B. H. (1996). An integrative model for the study of developmental competencies in minority children. Child Development, 67, 1891–1914.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Georgiades, K., Boyle, M. H., & Duku, E. (2007). Contextual influences on children’s mental health and school performance: The moderating effects of family immigrant status. Child Development, 78, 1572–1591.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Georgiades, K., Boyle, M. H., Duku, E., & Racine, Y. (2006). Tobacco use among immigrant and nonimmigrant adolescents: Individual and family level influences. Journal of Adolescent Health, 38, 443-e7

    Google Scholar 

  • Greenland, S. (2000). Principles of multilevel modelling. International Journal of Epidemiology, 29, 158–167.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hiott, A., Grzywacz, J. G., Arcury, T. A., & Quandt, S. A. (2006). Gender differences in anxety and depression among immigrant Latinos. Family, Systems, & Health, 24, 137–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hotton, T., & Haans, D. (2004). Alcohol and drug use in early adolescence. Statistics Canada Health Reports, 15(3). Ottawa: Ministry of Industry.

  • Jain, A., & Belsky, J. (1997). Fathering and acculturation: Immigrant Indian families with young children. Journal of Marriage & the Family, 59, 873–883.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kao, G. (1999). Psychological well-being and educational achievement among immigrant youth. In D. J. Hernandez (Ed.), Children of immigrants: Health, adjustment, and public assistance (pp. 410–478). Washington: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kirmayer, L. J., Narasiah, L., Munoz, M., Rashid, M., Ryder, A. G., Guzder, J., et al. (2010). Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: General approach in primary care. Canadian Medical Association Journal. Advanced online publication.

  • Klerman, G. K., & Weissman, M. M. (1989). Increasing rates of depression. Journal of the American Medical Association, 261, 2229–2235.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kobayashi, A., Moore, E., & Rosenberg, M. (1998). Healthy immigrant children: A demographic and geographic analysis No. W98-20E. Ottawa: Applied Research Branch Strategic Policy, Human Resources Development Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lefebvre, P., & Merrigan, P. (2008). Family background, family income, cogntive test scores, behavioural scales and their relationship with post-secondary education participation. Evidence from the NLSCY. Centre Interuniversitaire sur al Risque, les Politiques Economiques et l'Emploie. Working Paper 08–30.

  • Lefebvre, P., & Merrigan, P. (2010). Gender gap in dropping out of high school: Evidence from the Canadian NLSCY youth. Cahiers de recherche, 1044, CIRPEE.

  • Legault, L., Anawati, M., & Flynn, R. (2006). Factors favouring psychological resilience among fostered young people. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 1024–1038.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lewinsohn, P. M., Rohde, P., Seeley, J. R., Klein, D. N., & Gotlib, I. H. (2003). Psychosocial functioning of young adults who have experienced and recovered from major depressive disorder during adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 353–363.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu, L. L., Benner, A. D., Lau, A. S., & Kim, S. Y. (2009). Mother-adolescent language proficiency and adolescent academic and emotional adjustment among Chinese American families. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 572–586.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Luo, S., & Wiseman, R. L. (2000). Ethnic language maintenance among Chinese immigrant children in the United States. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 24, 307–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marsh, H. W., & Gouvernet, P. J. (1989). Multidimensional self-concepts and perceptions of control: Construct validation of responses by children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 57–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McDonald, R. P., & Marsh, H. W. (1990). Choosing a multivariate model: Noncentrality and goodness of fit. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 247–255.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Navara, G. S., & Lollis, S. (2009). How adolescent children of African Jamaican immigrants living in Canada perceive and negotiate their roles within a matrifocal family. Family Process, 48, 441–458.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Offord, D. R., Boyle, M. H., Szatmari, P., Rae-Grant, N. I., Links, P. S., Cadman, D. T., et al. (1987). Ontario Child Health Study. II. Six-month prevalence of disorder and rates of service utilization. Archives of General Psychiatry, 44, 832–836.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Orth, U., Robins, R. W., & Meier, L. L. (2009). Disentangling the effects of low self-esteem and stressful events on depression: Findings from three longitudinal studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 307–321.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Perreira, K. M., Deeb-Sossa, N., Mullan Harris, K., & Bollen, K. (2005). What are we measuring? An evaluation of the CES-D across race/ethnicity and immigrant generation. Social Forces, 83, 1567–1602.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Phinney, J. S., Ong, A., & Madden, T. (2000). Cultural values and intergenerational value discrepancies in immigrant and non-immigrant families. Child Development, 71, 528–539.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Piccinelli, M., & Wilkinson, G. (2000). Gender differences in depression. British Journal of Psychiatry, 177, 486–492.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Piko, B. F., Kovacs, E., & Fitzpatrick, K. M. (2009). What makes a difference? Understanding the role of protective factors in Hungarian adolescents’ depressive symptomatology. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 18, 617–624.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Portes, A. (1997). Immigration theory for a new century: Some problems and opportunities. The International Migration Review, 31, 799–825.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. G. (2006). Immigrant America: A portrait (3rd ed.). Ewing, NJ: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryder, A. G., Alden, L. E., & Paulhus, D. L. (2000). Is acculturation unidimensional or bidimensional? A head-to-head comparison in the prediction of personality, self-identity, and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 49–65.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sam, D. L. (2000). Psychological adaptation of adolescents with immigrant backgrounds. The Journal of Social Psychology, 140, 5–25.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sam, D. L., Vedder, P., Ward, C., & Horenczyk, G. (2006). Psychological and sociocultural adaptation of immigrant youth. In J. W. Berry, J. S. Phinney, D. L. Sam, & P. Vedder (Eds.), Immigrant youth in cultural transition: Acculturation, identity, and adaptation across national contexts (pp. 117–141). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. (2003). Applied longitudinal data analysis: Modeling change and event occurrence. New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Statistics Canada. (1995). NLSCY microdata user guide cycle 1. Ottawa, CA: Human Resources Development Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  • Statistics Canada. (1997). 1996 Canadian census. Ottawa, CA: Minister of Industry.

    Google Scholar 

  • Statistics Canada. (2010). Projections of diversity of the Canadian population. Ottawa, CA: Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  • Steenbergen, M. R., & Jones, B. S. (2002). Modeling multilevel data structures. American Journal of Political Science, 46, 218–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–110.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suarez-Orozco, C., Rhodes, J., & Milburn, M. (2009). Unraveling the immigrant paradox: American engagement and disengagement among recently arrived immigrant youth. Youth & Society, 41, 151–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tardif, C., & Geva, E. (2006). The link between acculturation disparity and conflict among chinese canadian immigrant mother-adolescent dyads. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 37, 191–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Voorhees, B. W., Paunesku, D., Kuwabara, S. A., Basu, A., Gollan, J., Hankin, B. L., et al. (2008). Protective and vulnerability factors predicting new-onset depressive episodes in a representative sample of U.S. adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 605–616.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vazsonyi, A. T., Trejos-Castillo, E., & Huang, L. (2006). Are developmental processes affected by immigration? Family processes, internalizing behaviors, and externalizing behaviors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 799–813.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vedder, P., Van de Vijver, F. J. R., & Liebkind, K. (2006). Predicting immigrant youths’ adaptation across countries and ethnocultural groups. In J. W. Berry, J. S. Phinney, D. L. Sam, & P. Vedder (Eds.), Immigrant youth in cultural transitions: Acculturation, identity, and adaptation across national contexts. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walsh, S. D., Harel-Fisch, Y., & Fogel-Grinvald, H. (2010). Parents, teachers and peer relations as predictors of risk behaviors and mental well-being among immigrant and Israeli born adolescents. Social Science and Medicine, 70, 976–984.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshikawa, H. (2008). From peers to policy: How broader social contexts influence the adaptation of children and youth in immigrant families. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 121, 1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hien Nguyen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nguyen, H., Rawana, J.S. & Flora, D.B. Risk and Protective Predictors of Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents from Immigrant Backgrounds. J Youth Adolescence 40, 1544–1558 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-011-9636-8

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-011-9636-8

Keywords

  • Immigrant
  • Adolescent development
  • Depression
  • Canada
  • Multi-level models