ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 5, 739-749, 2012
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The Social Context of Adolescent Depression: Vulnerabilities and Consequences

Constance Hammen
University of California, Los Angeles

Volume 3, Issue 5, 2012, Pages 739-749

The author's program of research on depression in adolescents and their mothers is reviewed, emphasizing the interpersonal aspects of depression. Studies from a large community sample of depressed or never-depressed women and their children assessed directly at ages 15 and 20, are presented to illustrate not only interpersonal consequences of depression, but also interpersonal risk and vulnerability factors. For instance, social withdrawal as early as age 5, as well as social dysfunction in several social roles, predict depressive experiences in adolescence and young adulthood. Further, some youth, especially girls, are particularly reactive to negative life events with interpersonal content. Interpersonal impairment is not only evident during depressive episodes but is also relatively stable and generalized. Among depressed adolescents, those who are offspring of depressed mothers appear to be at particularly great risk for interpersonal dysfunction, and such dysfunctions in early adolescence among depressed youth are strongly predictive of recurrent depression. Stress processes are central to depression, and those with depression histories are at greater risk for contributing to stressful life events, thus perpetuating the cycle of stress and depression. The vulnerabilities of depressed individuals that cause or contribute to stressful life events also appear to contribute to the creation of ongoing stressful life patterns, such as selection into physically abusive relationships and early (teen) pregnancy. Indeed, long-term bidirectional patterns of continuing stress (especially interpersonal stress) and depression, are characteristic of children of depressed mothers and portend further generations of depressed offspring.

Table of Contents
Interpersonal Vulnerabilities and Consequences of Depression
Illustrations of Interpersonal Difficulties in Adolescent Depression
Interpersonal Aspects of Depression in Youth of Depressed Mothers
Depression and the Generation of Stressful Events and Circumstances
Implications of an Emphasis on Social Relationships in Depression

Correspondence to
Constance Hammen, Department of Psychology, Box 951563, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563.

depression, interpersonal, children of depressed mothers, stress generation, stress continuity

Received 27 Jan 2012; Revised 26 Apr 2012; Accepted 27 Apr 2012; In Press 4 Nov 2012

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