Self-Competence and Depressive Symptom Trajectories during Adolescence
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between self-competence and subsequent depressive symptom trajectories, by gender, in a community sample of adolescents (N = 753; 53% female; 65% non-Hispanic White). Data were collected annually for three years beginning when adolescents were in the 10th and 11th grades (Age: M = 16.09, SD = 0.72 years). Adolescents provided self-reports of self-competence at baseline and depressive symptoms every year. In latent growth curve models examining the overall trajectory of depressive symptoms, higher global self-worth and self-competence in close friendships were significantly associated with greater decreases in depressive symptoms (ps < 0.05). In contrast, higher academic self-competence was associated with more attenuated decreases in depressive symptoms (p = 0.001). When examining subgroups of latent depressive symptom trajectories within the context of growth mixture modeling, higher self-competence in physical appearance was associated with a decreased likelihood of membership in trajectory classes characterized by high initial, then decreasing depressive symptoms or and low initial, then increasing depressive symptoms (ps < 0.01). Among girls, higher global self-worth and self-competence in close friendship and academic domains were associated with membership in a trajectory class distinguished by high stable depressive symptoms (ps < 0.01); these associations were not observed among boys (ps > 0.05). Findings suggest that the competence-based model of depression is valid and applicable during middle-to-late adolescence, and emphasize the importance of considering gender and individual differences in the developmental course of depressive symptoms to gain a more nuanced understanding of the role of self-competence in depressive symptom trajectories.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10802-017-0340-3
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