Attachment security to mothers and fathers and the developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms in adolescence: which parent for which trajectory?

J Youth Adolesc. 2014 Apr;43(4):641-54. doi: 10.1007/s10964-013-0029-z. Epub 2013 Oct 10.


This longitudinal study investigated the links between adolescents' perceptions of attachment security in their relationships with their mothers and fathers and developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms in a community sample of 414 adolescents (45 % males). The participants were followed annually from age 11 (end of elementary school) to 16 (end of high school). Group-based trajectory modeling analyses conditional on risk and protective factors identified four trajectories of depressive symptoms across adolescence: moderate stable (MS; 54.57 % of the sample), low stable (LS; 27.16 %), moderate increasing (MI; 11.30 %), and high declining (HD; 6.97 %). Membership in the HD versus LS trajectory group was predicted by attachment security to both the mother and father at baseline (age 11), whereas attachment security to the mother increased the odds of belonging to the MS and MI groups. These relationships were statistically significant after controlling for gender, anxiety symptoms, and academic competence. The findings are discussed with respect to their contribution to attachment theory and the research on the complementary contributions of mothers and fathers to the prevention of depressive symptomatology during adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations*