BACKGROUND: Depression during adolescence is a serious mental health problem. Difficulties in regulating evoked emotions after stressful life events are considered to lead to depression. This study examined if depressive symptoms were mediated by various cognitive emotion regulation strategies after stressful life events, more specifically, the loss of a loved one, health threats or relational challenges.
METHODS: We used a sample of 398 adolescents (Mage = 16.94, SD = 2.90), including 52 depressed outpatients, who all reported stressful life event(s). Path analyses in Mplus were used to test mediation, for the whole sample as well as separately for participants scoring high versus low on depression, using multigroup analyses.
RESULTS: Health threats and relational challenging stressful life events were associated with depressive symptoms, while loss was not. More frequent use of maladaptive strategies was related to more depressive symptoms. More frequent use of adaptive strategies was related to less depressive symptoms. Specific life events were associated with specific emotion regulation strategies. The relationship between challenging, stressful life events and depressive symptoms in the whole group was mediated by maladaptive strategies (self-blame, catastrophizing and rumination). No mediation effect was found for adaptive strategies.
CONCLUSION: The association between relational challenging, stressful life events and depressive symptoms was mediated by maladaptive, cognitive emotion regulation strategies.
- Adaptation, Psychological
- Depressive Disorder
- Life Change Events
- Surveys and Questionnaires
- Young Adult
- Journal Article