Predicting the transition from anxiety to depressive symptoms in early adolescence: Negative anxiety response style as a moderator of sequential comorbidity

  • Starr L
  • Stroud C
  • Li Y
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Background Anxiety often precedes depression. The anxiety response styles theory of comorbidity suggests anxious individuals with a tendency to ruminate or make hopeless attributions about anxiety symptoms (negative anxiety response styles [NARS]) are more vulnerable to subsequent depressive symptoms. However, this theory has never been tested in adolescence, when the anxiety-depression transition may frequently occur, or using an extended (one-year) follow-up period. Method 128 early adolescent girls (M=12.39 years) participated with caregivers in a one-year longitudinal study. At baseline and follow-up, participants completed diagnostic interviews and self-report measures assessing child NARS and brooding rumination. Results T1 NARS predicted longitudinal elevations in depressive symptoms and increased associations between T1 anxiety and T2 depressive symptoms. Limitations This study examines anxiety and depression comorbidity using a community sample. The sample is relatively low on sociodemographic diversity. Conclusions Results support the anxiety response styles theory, with potential implications for early identification of anxious youth at risk for later development of comorbid depression.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression
  • Early adolescence
  • Negative anxiety response styles
  • Rumination

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  • Lisa R. Starr

  • Catherine B. Stroud

  • Yihan I. Li

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