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Handle with Care: How Parenting Shapes Adolescents’ Values

New research reveals how different parenting “styles” foster the development of different sets of values among teens.

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How can researchers study developmental constructs over time when age-appropriate measures change as their sample ages?

Studying Change In Depressive Symptoms In Youth Over Time Poses Specific Challenges For Researchers Related To Both Change In Symptom Manifestation And Change In Age-Validated Measurement.

Assessing change in mental health, such as depressive symptoms, across development is particularly challenging for two related reasons. First, the symptoms of depression look different at different ages; for example, in childhood, depression often manifests as angry mood, but as youth age, depression manifests as sadness and suicidal ideation. Second, and accordingly, the way clinicians and researchers measure mental health symptoms also changes across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. To examine depressive symptoms, children are often assessed using tools like the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI; validated for use with children age 8-17 years), while adults are assessed using measures like the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II; validated for use with adolescents and adults age 13 and older). Although both tools are reliable, valid, and age-appropriate, they include different items and response options. This makes it challenging to track how individuals’ level of depression changes with age. If different measures are used at different times, it is not possible to know whether the observed changes in depression are indicative of an individual’s symptoms changing over time or if they are a by-product of change in the measurement instrument. Tracking and answering questions about changes in depressive symptoms when different measurement tools are used requires some creative linking of the different tools.

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Identifying pathways and patterns of adolescent depression

Strategies For Identifying And Preventing Adolescent Depression: Summarizing 15 Years Of Research

With depression predicted to contribute to an increased disease burden in coming decades, prevention efforts have become increasingly important. Prevention needs to commence early in the lifecycle, possibly even with children as young as four years of age. To identify children and adolescents who are most at risk, our research looked to understand sub-groups of children with similarities in the development of depressive symptoms over time. We reviewed twenty English language longitudinal studies published between 2002 and 2015 originating in USA (8), Canada (5), Netherlands (2), Germany, Finland, Chile, Holland, and the UK/Wales/Scotland. We found five subgroups of children and adolescents through a unique statistical analysis known as trajectory modeling. While the majority (56%) of children followed a ‘No or low’ depressive symptom trajectory over time, 26% followed a ‘Moderate’ depressive symptom trajectory and 12% followed ‘High’, ‘Increasing’, or ‘Decreasing’ depressive symptom trajectories (total of 94% is due to rounding across studies).

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