Risk and resource factors for depressive symptoms during adolescence and emerging adulthood - A 5-year follow-up using population-based data of the BELLA study

J Affect Disord. 2021 Feb 1;280(Pt A):258-266. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.11.036. Epub 2020 Nov 10.


Introduction: Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in adolescents and young adults worldwide, and causes a high burden for both individuals and society. The present study aims to investigate the role of risk and resource factors for depressive symptoms during adolescence and emerging adulthood in a German population-based cohort.

Methods: Within the longitudinal BELLA study, data on risk and resource factors were collected among n = 632 children and adolescents aged 11 to 17 years. Depressive symptoms were measured five years later. Multivariate linear regression models served to investigate effects of risk and resource factors on depressive symptoms. Regression models were stratified by gender. Moreover, we explored potential interaction effects.

Results: A negative mother-child relationship predicted depressive symptoms in girls, whereas school stress served as a risk factor in boys. Peer competence was associated with fewer depressive symptoms in girls, and family cohesion was identified as a resource factor in boys. In addition, few moderating effects of resource factors on the association between risk factors and depressive symptoms were found.

Limitations: As the BELLA study is a population-based observational study, we only identified associations between risk and resource factors and no cause-effect relationships.

Conclusions: Findings provide evidence of gender-specific risk and resource factors for depression. Individuals who are exposed to risk factors must be monitored during the transition into adulthood. Gender-sensitive prevention and early intervention programs are needed.

Keywords: Adolescents; Depression; Protective factors; Resource factors; Risk factors; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult