Growing up too fast? : an examination of pubertal timing and childhood social wariness in the development of adolescent depression

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jessica M. Lee (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Susan Keane

Abstract: Children are vulnerable to experiencing increases in depressive symptoms by late adolescence, as they are not yet fully equipped with effective cognitive and emotional resources to successfully navigate the adolescent transition. Biological factors (i.e., earlier pubertal timing) and social characteristics (i.e., childhood social wariness) have been associated with increased risk of depressive symptoms in adolescence. While the association between earlier pubertal timing and adolescent depressive symptoms has been well-established, no research has yet examined whether childhood social wariness is associated with depressive symptoms beyond childhood. In addition, the contextual amplification hypothesis suggests that the negative effects of earlier pubertal timing may be exacerbated by an earlier vulnerability to predict increases in depressive symptoms. To date, no study has yet integrated the pubertal timing and social wariness literatures to examine how a childhood vulnerability may exacerbate the negative effects of earlier pubertal timing to predict adolescent depression. The present study sought to examine the main effects and interaction between pubertal timing at age 12 and childhood social wariness at ages 2, 4, 5, and 7 in predicting increases in depressive symptoms at age 17 in adolescent boys and girls, controlling for depressive symptoms at age 10. As part of an ongoing longitudinal study, mothers completed a pubertal development measure, social fear and shyness measures and children/adolescents completed self-report measures of depressive symptoms. A regression analysis was conducted to test main effects and a multigroup analysis was conducted to test the three-way interaction. As expected, pubertal timing and social wariness, independently, predicted increases in adolescent depressive symptoms. Contrary to hypotheses, the proposed three-way interaction was not found. Findings of the current study are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Adolescent depression, Pubertal timing, Social wariness
Puberty $x Psychological aspects
Social phobia in children
Depression in adolescence

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