Prospective community study of family stress and anxiety in (pre)adolescents. The TRAILS study
For prevention of anxiety in children and adolescents, it is important to know whether family stress is a predictor of anxiety. We studied this in 1,875 adolescents from the Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS) who were followed-up for two years, from age 10-12 to 12-14 years. Adolescents reported anxiety and depression symptoms at both assessments, and parents reported family stress (family dysfunction and parenting stress) at the first assessment. Family dysfunction was not associated with future anxiety, whereas high parenting stress was. Furthermore, family dysfunction was more strongly associated with anxiety than with depression, whereas parenting stress was more strongly associated with depression. Level of parental psychopathology explained part of the association of family stress with anxiety. The associations were modest and the understanding of the origins of adolescents’ anxiety will require identifying other factors than family stress that account for more of the variance.