Differential Effects of Individual Factors on the Developmental Pathways of Depression
Mc Donald, Krysta Michelle Genevieve
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This study used growth mixture modeling to investigate the developmental pathways of depressive symptoms across adolescence and emerging adulthood (ages 12-25 years) using a nationally representative sample (N = 20,394). Four unique non-linear trajectories were found: low-decreasing (normative), low-increasing, low-high increasing, and high-decreasing. In general, being male (i.e., low-decreasing, high-decreasing) and having high self-esteem (i.e., low-decreasing, low-increasing, high-decreasing) were protective against depressive symptoms. None of the included factors had any effect on the dramatic increase of depressive symptoms within the low-high increasing trajectory. The results suggest that, by taking a person-centered approach that included two developmentally sensitive periods, four distinct trajectories of depressive symptoms, and a unique pattern of risk and protective factors within these trajectories were found. Study findings can inform individualized prevention and intervention initiatives by targeting protective factors that are most likely to have a positive impact on the reported developmental pattern of depressive symptoms.