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Networks of depression and anxiety symptoms across development

McElroy, E; Fearon, RMP; Belsky, J; Fonagy, P; Patalay, P; (2018) Networks of depression and anxiety symptoms across development. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry , 57 (12) pp. 964-973. 10.1016/j.jaac.2018.05.027. Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Frequent co-occurrence and bidirectional longitudinal associations have led some researchers to question the boundaries between depression and anxiety. A longitudinal investigation of the interconnected symptom structure of these constructs may help determine the extent to which they are distinct, and whether this changes over development. Therefore, the present study used network analysis to examine these symptom−symptom associations developmentally from early childhood to mid-adolescence. METHOD: We analyzed data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 1,147). Depression and anxiety symptoms were assessed on 7 occasions between ages 5 and 14 years using maternal reports. Regularized partial correlation networks were constructed at each time point, and diagnostic boundaries were explored using empirical tests of network modularity (ie, clustering of symptom nodes). Nonparametric permutation tests were used to determine whether symptoms became more associated over development, and network centrality was examined to identify developmental changes in the overall importance of specific symptoms. RESULTS: Symptoms formed highly interconnected networks, as evidenced by strong associations between depression and anxiety symptoms and a lack of distinct clustering. There was some evidence of an increase in overall connectivity as children aged. Feeling “anxious/fearful” and “unhappy/sad” were consistently the most central symptoms over development. CONCLUSION: Minimal clustering of nodes indicated no separation of depression and anxiety symptoms from early childhood through mid-adolescence. An increase in connectivity over development suggests that symptoms may reinforce each other, potentially contributing to the high levels of lifetime continuity of these disorders.

Type: Article
Title: Networks of depression and anxiety symptoms across development
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2018.05.027
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2018.05.027
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: depression, anxiety, comorbidity, developmental psychopathology, transdiagnostic
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10051455
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