Developmental trajectories of anxiety and depression in early adolescence


McLaughlin, K. A., & King, K. (2015). Developmental trajectories of anxiety and depression in early adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology , 43 (2), 311–323.

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Adolescence is a period of heightened vulnerability for the onset of internalizing psychopathology. Characterizing developmental patterns of symptom stability, progression, and co-occurrence is important in order to identify adolescents most at risk for persistent problems. We use latent growth curve modeling to characterize developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms and four classes of anxiety symptoms (GAD, physical symptoms, separation anxiety, and social anxiety) across early adolescence, prospective associations of depression and anxiety trajectories with one another, and variation in trajectories by gender. A diverse sample of early adolescents (N = 1,065) was assessed at three time points across a one-year period. All classes of anxiety symptoms declined across the study period and depressive symptoms remained stable. In between-individual analysis, adolescents with high levels of depressive symptoms experienced less decline over time in symptoms of physical, social, and separation anxiety. Consistent associations were observed between depression and anxiety symptom trajectories within-individuals over time, such that adolescents who experienced a higher level of a specific symptom type than would be expected given their overall symptom trajectory were more likely to experience a later deflection from their average trajectory in other symptoms. Within-individual deflections in GAD, physical, and social symptoms predicted later deflections in depressive symptoms, and deflections in depressive symptoms predicted later deflections in GAD and separation anxiety symptoms. Females had higher levels of symptoms than males, but no evidence was found for variation in symptom trajectories or their associations with one another by gender or by age.

Last updated on 09/12/2018