Testing a gender additive model: the role of body image in adolescent depression

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2008 Nov;36(8):1251-63. doi: 10.1007/s10802-008-9248-2.


Despite consistent evidence that adolescent girls are at greater risk of developing depression than adolescent boys, risk factor models that account for this difference have been elusive. The objective of this research was to examine risk factors proposed by the gender additive model of depression that attempts to partially explain the increased prevalence of depression in adolescent girls. The theory suggests that body image and eating related variables predict depression for girls, but not for boys, above and beyond the variance accounted for by other well-known risk factors, some of which were examined in the current study. The sample was 247 adolescent girls and 181 adolescent boys studied over a 24-month duration. Results suggest that body dissatisfaction is a potent predictor of depression for girls, but not for boys, above and beyond the predictive effects of other established risk factors. Results provide insight into the etiology of adolescent depression and the disparate rate of depression among adolescent girls and provide direction for identifying high-risk individuals and developing effective prevention programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires