Is depression best viewed as a continuum or discrete category? A taxometric analysis of childhood and adolescent depression in a population-based sample

  • Hankin B
  • Fraley R
  • Lahey B
 et al. 
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Abstract

The authors examined the latent structure of depression in a population-based sample of children and adolescents. Youth's self-reports and parents' reports of the youth's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) major depressive symptoms were assessed via a structured clinical interview. The authors used Meehl's (1995) taxometric procedures to discern whether youth depression is dimensional or categorical. Taxometric analyses that explicitly took into account the skewness of depressive symptoms suggested that depression is a dimensional, not categorical, construct. The dimensional structure of depression was obtained for all of the DSM-IV major depressive symptoms as well as for different domains of depression (emotional distress symptoms and vegetative, involuntary defeat symptoms), youth and parent reports, and different subsamples (i.e., boys vs. girls and younger vs. older youth).

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Authors

  • Benjamin L. Hankin

  • R. Chris Fraley

  • Benjamin B. Lahey

  • Irwin D. Waldman

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