Adolescent life events as predictors of adult depression

J Affect Disord. 2002 Feb;68(1):49-57. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00331-1.


Background: Among adults, life events predict future episodes of major depression as well as a range of anxiety disorders. While studies have begun to examine this issue in adolescents, few studies rely upon prospective epidemiological designs to document relationships between adolescent life events and adult major depression.

Method: An epidemiologically-selected sample of 776 young people living in Upstate New York received DSM-based psychiatric assessments and an assessment of life events in 1986. Psychopathology was again assessed in 1992. The current study examined the predictive relationship between life events in 1986 and depression as well as anxiety in 1992, controlling for depression/anxiety in 1986.

Results: Adolescent life events predicted an increased risk for major depression diagnosis in adulthood. When analyzed continuously, an association emerged with symptoms of major depression as well as with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. However, this association with generalized anxiety disorder was limited to females.

Conclusions: Life events in adolescence predict risk for major depression during early adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Sex Factors