Dysfunctional attitudes, self-esteem, and hassles: cognitive vulnerability to depression in children of affectively ill parents

Behav Res Ther. 2007 Jun;45(6):1127-40. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2006.09.011. Epub 2006 Oct 30.


The current study tested the diathesis-stress component of Beck's [(1967). Depression: Clinical, experimental, and theoretical aspects. New York: Harper & Row, (1983). Cognitive therapy of depression: New perspectives. In P.J. Clayton, J.E. Barnett (Eds.), Treatment of depression: Old controversies and new approaches (pp. 265-290). New York: Raven Press] cognitive theory of depression in a sample of children between the ages of 6 and 14. We also examined whether high self-esteem buffers cognitively vulnerable youth against experiencing increases in depressive symptoms following increases in hassles. To provide a effective test of hypotheses, an at-risk sample (children of parents with a history of major depressive episodes) and a multi-wave longitudinal design were used. At Time 1, children (n=140) completed measures assessing dysfunctional attitudes, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms. Every 6 weeks for the next year, children completed measures assessing depressive symptoms and hassles. Hierarchical linear modeling analyses indicated that children possessing high levels of dysfunctional attitudes and low levels of self-esteem reported greater elevations in depressive symptoms following elevations in hassles than other children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*