A Vulnerability-Stress Examination of Response Styles Theory in Adolescence: Stressors, Sex Differences, and Symptom Specificity

Jonathan P. Stange, Jessica L. Hamilton, Lyn Y. Abramson, Lauren B. Alloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The stress-reactivity extension of the response styles theory of depression suggests that individuals who ruminate (or fail to engage in distraction or problem solving) in response to dysphoric mood are likely to experience higher levels of depression following stress. However, previous studies have not addressed (a) the specificity of these vulnerability–stress relations to symptoms of depression following different types of stressors, and (b) to what extent rumination and stress can account for the sex differences in depression that emerge during early adolescence. A community sample of 256 early adolescents (ages 12–13) completed a baseline visit and a follow-up visit 9 months later. Response styles and symptoms of depression and anxiety were assessed at baseline, and intervening life events, emotional maltreatment, peer relational victimization, and symptoms of depression and anxiety were assessed at follow-up. Higher rumination and lower distraction/problem solving interacted with several types of stressors to predict higher levels of symptoms of depression but not anxiety. Rumination was more strongly associated with elevations in depressive symptoms following the occurrence of relational victimization events in girls than in boys. In addition, dependent interpersonal stress mediated the sex difference in depressive symptoms that emerged at follow-up, and this indirect pathway was stronger among adolescents who tended to ruminate. Rumination may confer vulnerability that is specific to symptoms of depression following recent stressors during early adolescence. Girls who ruminate may be particularly likely to experience depression following relational victimization, and dependent interpersonal stressors may help to account for girls’ greater risk for depression during adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-827
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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