(2008). Journal of Affective Disorders, 105, 185-193.
Background: Stressful life events increase the probability of depressive problems in early adolescence. Several genetic and environmental risk factors may change individual sensitivity to the depressogenic effect of these events. We examined modification by parental depression and gender, and mediation of the former by temperament and family environment. Methods: Data were collected as part of a longitudinal cohort study of (pre)adolescents (n = 2127). During the first assessment wave at approximately age 11, we assessed parental depression, family functioning, perceived parenting behaviours, and temperamental frustration and fearfulness. At the second wave, about two and a half years later, stressful life events between the first and second assessment were assessed. Depressive problems were measured at both waves. Results: Adolescents with parents who had a (lifetime) depressive episode were more sensitive to the depressogenic effect of stressful events than adolescents without depressed parents. Furthermore, girls are more sensitive to these effects than boys. The modifying effect of parental depression was not mediated by temperament, family functioning and perceived parenting. Limitations: Life events were assessed without consideration of contextual information. Depressive problems were measured by questionnaires that did not directly represent DSM-IV criteria. The measure of parental depression was unspecific regarding severity and timing of depressive episodes. Conclusion: The results suggest that gender and parental depression are associated with increased sensitivity to depression after experiencing stressful life events during adolescence.
In this study, we investigated if the association between parental divorce and depressive symptoms changes during early adolescence and if developmental patterns are similar for boys and girls. Data were collected in a prospective population cohort of Dutch adolescents (N = 2149), aged 10 - 15 years. Outcome variables were self-reported and parent-reported depressive symptoms. The effects of divorce were adjusted for parental depression. In both self-reported and parent-reported data, we found a three-way interaction of gender, age, and parental divorce, indicating that with increasing age, parental divorce became more strongly associated with depressive symptoms among girls, but not boys. These results suggest that girls with divorced parents are at particularly high risk to develop depressive symptoms during adolescence.