It is well known that stressful life events can play a role in the development of adolescent depressive symptoms; however, there has been little research on romantic stress specifically. The relationship between romantic stress and depressive symptoms is particularly salient in adolescence, as adolescence often involves the onset of dating. This and other stressors are often dealt with in the context of the family. The present study examined the relationship between romantic stress and depressive symptoms both concurrently and prospectively, controlling for preexisting depressive symptoms. We then explored whether support from parents buffers the negative effects of romantic stress on depressive symptoms. In addition, the study sought to determine whether the benefits of support vary by parent and child gender. A community sample of 375 adolescents completed self-report measures of parental support (both maternal and paternal), romantic stress, and depressive symptoms. A behavioral measure of maternal support was also obtained. For boys and girls, romantic stress at age 15 predicted depressive symptoms at ages 15 and 18, even when controlling for age 13 depressive symptoms. Perceived maternal support buffered the stress-depressive symptom relationship for both genders at age 15, even when controlling for age 13 depressive symptoms. Higher perceived paternal support was associated with lower adolescent depressive symptoms; however, it did not have a buffering effect. These results have implications for the development of effective family-centered methods to prevent the development of depressive symptoms in adolescents.
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