Parent and peer attachment in early adolescent depression

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1990 Dec;18(6):683-97. doi: 10.1007/BF01342754.


Insecure attachment relations have been theorized to play a significant role in the development of depressogenic modes of adaptation and to thus form a vulnerability factor for the emergence of depressive disorder in children. This study examined security of parent and peer attachment among four groups of early adolescents: clinically depressed, nondepressed psychiatric controls, nonpsychiatric controls, and adolescents with resolved depression. Depressed adolescents reported significantly less secure parent attachment than either of the control groups, and less secure peer attachment than the nonpsychiatric control group. Attachment security of adolescents with resolved depression was on a par with the nonpsychiatric control group. Among all psychiatric patients, security of attachment to parents was negatively correlated with severity of depression according to interview and self-report ratings. Less secure attachment to parents, but generally not to peers, was also related to more maladaptive attributional styles, presence of separation anxiety disorder, and history of suicidal ideation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety, Separation / psychology
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Peer Group*
  • Personality Tests
  • Suicide / psychology