Category: Comorbidity - Other
The relationship of stressful events to the frequency and severity of depressive symptoms has been well documented and clearly indicates a stress-depression positive association. However, conceptual and methodological problems have frequently hampered our understanding of the direction and specificity of this association. The heterogeneous symptom patterns presented by depressives and the frequent co-occurring status of depression with other psychiatric disorders have impeded research to date. Similarly, determining the appropriate focus/content of event scales used in emotional disorders research has yet to reach consensus. Although both cognitive and personality factors appear to moderate the stress-depression relationship, neither has agreement been reached about the identification of specific variables, assessment approaches, and optimal statistical models. Toward these goals, this study examined the moderating and mediating influences of anxiety, socialization, problem solving, and gender on the stress-depression relationship. In addition, negative events were assessed in terms of both major events and daily hassles to compare and contrast their unique and combined associations with depressive symptom severity. Participants were 571 students who completed a battery of self-report questionnaires including the BDI-2, SRGTA, PSI, LECS, Hassles, and Socialization scale from the CPI. Subjects completed assessment measures in a large group setting, receiving partial course credit for participating. Analyses indicated that all measured variables correlated significantly with ratings of depressive symptoms (anxiety =. 47; socialization = -.42; problem-solving = -.34; hassles = .46; life events =.24). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses predicting depressive symptoms were computed and demonstrated that anxiety and socialization were significantly related to depression directly, and also appeared to moderate the stress-depression relationship. Statistical findings were also consistent with a path-analytic causal model in which both anxiety and stress were proposed to mediate the relationship between gender and depression, with a higher degree of socialization observed among female participants. Results were consistent across the measure of negative life events utilized (daily hassles vs. major events) and combining measures did not approve statistical goodness-of-fit. Self-reported problem-solving demonstrated little direct association with depression, and did not play a significant moderating or mediating role between stress and depression. Subsequent mean difference analyses of diagnosis-relevant classification groupings (depression, anxiety, and socialization) were also consistent with stated hypotheses; and a proposed causal model was statistically supported via path analysis. The exploratory analysis of the relationship between life stress and depression suggest that general personality factors and gender both appear to play mediating and moderating roles in the stress-depression relationship. The results provide direction for future research and carry implications for intervention programs designed for specific combinations of co-occurring disorders.
Scott Perkins– Professor of Psychology, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas