Stress and the Development of Cognitive Vulnerabilities to Depression Explain Sex Differences in Depressive Symptoms During Adolescence

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although cognitive vulnerabilities to depression have received considerable empirical support, little research has evaluated the differential development of cognitive vulnerabilities in adolescent girls and boys. The current study examined the role of stressful life events, as well as sex differences in reactivity and exposure to stress, in the development of negative cognitive style and rumination in a multiwave study of 382 adolescents. Path analyses indicated that interpersonal dependent stress predicted higher prospective levels of negative cognitive styles and rumination. In addition, girls’ greater exposure to interpersonal dependent stress explained their higher levels of rumination, which accounted for higher levels of depressive symptoms in girls than in boys. These findings suggest that interpersonal dependent stress is a significant risk factor for the formation of cognitive vulnerabilities to depression during adolescence, and that the sex difference in depressive symptoms may result from girls’ greater exposure to interpersonal dependent stress and ruminative response style.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-714
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • cognitive vulnerability
  • depression
  • sex differences
  • stress

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