Date of this Version
Zhang, X. (2013). Stress, coping, and depression in adolescents: A longitudinal analysis of data from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. PhD dissertation, University of Nebraska.
The study examined the relationships among stress, coping and depression using the public-use data from the first three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Harris & Udry, 1994-2008). The total sample of 3844 participants aged from 11 to 27 was included in the analysis. Latent growth curve modeling was used to identify the developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms and stressful life events from age 12 to age 24, respectively; Latent growth curve modeling with two-construct parallel processes was used to examine the associations between stressful life events and depressive symptoms over time. Path analysis was used to test whether coping, including problem solving coping at Wave I, emotion-focused coping and unhealthy behavioral coping (i.e. substance use) at Wave II, mediated or moderated the association between stressful life events at Wave I and depressive symptoms at Wave III. The results showed that the average of depressive symptoms increased from early to middle adolescence, and then decreased from middle to late adolescence. Girls exhibited persistently higher levels of depression across the whole adolescence period than boys. Similar to the change patterns of depressive symptoms, the average number of stressful life events also increased from early to middle adolescence, and then decreased from middle to late adolescence. However, boys had persistently greater number of stressful life events than girls. In addition, the initial number of stressful life events was positively associated with the initial levels of depressive symptoms, whereas high initial number of stressful life events predicted slower increase of depressive symptoms over time, especially for girls. Furthermore, only emotion-focused coping was a significant mediator between earlier stressful life events and later depressive symptoms, and the effect was stronger in girls than in boys. Finally, unhealthy behavioral coping could reduce the adverse effect of earlier stressful life events on later depressive symptoms both in girls and boys. The limitations and contributions of the study as well as implications in the field of prevention and intervention are provided in the discussion.
Advisor: Yan Ruth Xia and Allison M. J. Reisbig