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Friendships and Family Support Reduce Subsequent Depressive Symptoms in At-Risk Adolescents

van Harmelen, A-L; Gibson, JL; St Clair, MC; Owens, M; Brodbeck, J; Dunn, V; Lewis, G; ... Goodyer, IM; + view all (2016) Friendships and Family Support Reduce Subsequent Depressive Symptoms in At-Risk Adolescents. PLoS ONE , 11 (5) , Article e0153715. 10.1371/journal.pone.0153715. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Early life stress (ELS) consists of child family adversities (CFA: negative experiences that happened within the family environment) and/or peer bullying. ELS plays an important role in the development of adolescent depressive symptoms and clinical disorders. Identifying factors that may reduce depressive symptoms in adolescents with ELS may have important public mental health implications. METHODS: We used structural equation modelling and examined the impact of adolescent friendships and/or family support at age 14 on depressive symptoms at age 17 in adolescents exposed to ELS before age 11. To this end, we used structural equation modelling in a community sample of 771 adolescents (322 boys and 477 girls) from a 3 year longitudinal study. Significant paths in the model were followed-up to test whether social support mediated or moderated the association between ELS and depressive symptoms at age 17. RESULTS: We found that adolescent social support in adolescence is negatively associated with subsequent depressive symptoms in boys and girls exposed to ELS. Specifically, we found evidence for two mediational pathways: In the first pathway family support mediated the link between CFA and depressive symptoms at age 17. Specifically, CFA was negatively associated with adolescent family support at age 14, which in turn was negatively associated with depressive symptoms at age 17. In the second pathway we found that adolescent friendships mediated the path between peer bullying and depressive symptoms. Specifically, relational bullying was negatively associated with adolescent friendships at age 14, which in turn were negatively associated with depressive symptoms at age 17. In contrast, we did not find a moderating effect of friendships and family support on the association between CFA and depressive symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Friendships and/or family support in adolescence mediate the relationship between ELS and late adolescent depressive symptoms in boys and girls. Therefore, enhancing affiliate relationships and positive family environments may benefit the mental health of vulnerable youth that have experienced CFA and/or primary school bullying.

Type: Article
Title: Friendships and Family Support Reduce Subsequent Depressive Symptoms in At-Risk Adolescents
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153715
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153715
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright: © 2016 Harmelen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
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 > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1505750
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