Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth experience elevated levels of depressive symptoms compared to heterosexual youth. This study examined how differences in depressive symptoms between heterosexual and LGB youth developed from late childhood to early adulthood. The association between sexual orientation and depressive symptoms was estimated from age 11 to 22 using data from the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey, a longitudinal Dutch cohort study. Of the 1738 respondents (54.8 % girls) that provided information on sexual orientation, 151 self-identified as LGB. In line with the Minority Stress Framework, it was tested whether self-reported peer victimization and parental rejection mediated the association between sexual orientation and depressive symptoms. Results indicated that LB girls and bisexuals were at increased risk of depressive symptoms already at age 11. The difference increased over time and was related to pubertal development in girls and bisexual individuals. Furthermore, self-reported peer victimization (for both boys and girls), as well as parental rejection (for girls/bisexuals), mediated the association between sexual orientation and depressive symptoms. The authors conclude that already in late childhood, associations between sexual orientation and depressive symptoms are found, partly due to minority stress mechanisms.
Adolescent onset depression places a high burden on those who suffer from it, and is difficult to treat. An improved understanding of mechanisms underlying susceptibility to adolescent depression may be useful in early detection and as target in treatment. Facial emotion identification bias has been suggested as trait marker for depression, but results have been inconclusive. To explore whether facial emotion identification biases may be trait markers for depression, we tested whether the speed with which young adolescents identified happy, sad, angry and fearful facial emotions predicted the onset of depression during an eight-year follow-up period. We hypothesized that facial emotion identification speed predicts depression in a symptom-congruent way and differentially predicts symptoms of anhedonia and sadness. Data were collected as part of the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS), and involved 1840 adolescents who participated in a facial emotion identification test at age 11 and were subjected to the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) at age 19. In a multi-emotion model, slow identification of happy facial emotions tentatively predicted onset of depressive disorder within the follow-up period. Slow identification of happy emotions and fast identification of sad emotions predicted symptoms of anhedonia, but not symptoms of sadness. Our results suggest that the relative speed of identification of happiness in relation to the identification of sadness is a better predictor of depression than the identification of either facial emotion alone. A possible mechanism underlying the predictive role of facial emotion identification may be a less reactive reward system.