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Age-varying associations between coping and depressive symptoms throughout adolescence and emerging adulthood

  • Anna Vannucci (a1), Kaitlin M. Flannery (a1) (a2) and Christine McCauley Ohannessian (a1) (a3)
Abstract

The objective of the current study was to apply the novel technique of time-varying effect modeling to examine age-varying associations between specific coping strategies and depressive symptoms across adolescence and emerging adulthood (ages 14–24). The participants were drawn from a community sample and followed across 4 years of high school and once 5 years postgraduation (N = 1,251, 53% female, 58% non-Hispanic White). Coping and depressive symptom questionnaires were administered across all data collection time points. Time-varying effect modeling used all available data (N = 5,651 measurement occasions) and adjusted for gender. Venting emotions and denial were associated with more depressive symptoms at a similar magnitude across adolescence and emerging adulthood. A positive association between problem solving oriented strategies (planning, active coping) and depressive symptoms was not observed until age 17.5, after which the magnitude of the association strengthened. More frequent instrumental and emotional support seeking were linked to fewer depressive symptoms between ages 18.8 and 23.6. More frequent use of humor was associated with greater depressive symptoms from ages 14.0 to 14.6, but with fewer depressive symptoms from ages 16.8 to 18.8. The findings illuminate when and how associations between specific coping strategies and depressive symptoms may emerge and change across developmental age, generating both theoretical and clinical implications.

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Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Anna Vannucci, MCenter for Behavioral Health, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, 282 Washington Street, Hartford, CT 06106; E-mail: AVannucci@connecticutchildrens.org.
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This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant K01-AA015059 (C.M.O., Principal Investigator). We thank all of the adolescents and parents who participated in this study. We also acknowledge the study staff for their unmatched dedication to the implementation and conduct of this project and thank Sarosh Khan and Sonja Gagnon for their invaluable assistance in preparing this manuscript.

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