This study investigated a broad array of putative risk factors for the onset of major depression and examined their screening properties in a longitudinal study of 479 adolescent girls. Results indicated that the most potent predictors of major depression onset included subthreshold depressive symptoms, poor school and family functioning, low parental support, bulimic symptoms, and delinquency. Classification tree analysis revealed interactions between 4 of these predictors, suggesting qualitatively different pathways to major depression. Girls with the combination of elevated depressive symptoms and poor school functioning represented the highest risk group, with a 40% incidence of major depression during the ensuing 4-year period. Results suggest that selected and indicated prevention programs should target these high-risk populations and seek to reduce these risk factors.
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