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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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Teens with Incarcerated Parents: Developmental Trajectories and Interventions

Adolescents With Currently Or Previously Incarcerated Parents Are At Much Higher Risk Of Delinquency And Criminal Justice Involvement. How Can This Cycle Be Broken?

Over the past four decades, the incarceration rate in the United States has skyrocketed, resulting in nearly one in every hundred American adults being incarcerated at a given time. The majority of adult prisoners are parents, often to multiple children and teenagers. As a result, approximately 3 million minors in the U.S. have at least one parent currently behind bars, and up to 8 million–approximately 1 in 14–will experience parental incarceration at some point in their childhood or adolescence. Extensive research has shown that parental incarceration puts youth at risk of a range of negative developmental outcomes, leading some researchers to call them the “invisible victims” of the criminal justice system.

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I’m bored! Leisure Boredom, Depression, and Delinquency in Early Adolescence

Are Adolescents Bored All The Time? Actually, Most Of Them Are Not But Those That Are Might Be At Higher Risk For Depressive Symptoms.

By:  Tara Kuther

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Health Disparities Research with LGBTQ Youth

Find Out More About Researchers Focusing On LGBTQ Youth Who Are At Risk For Negative Health Outcomes.

By Elizabeth McConnell, Michelle Birkett, & Brian Mustanski

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Should an adolescent receive individual or family therapy? It may depend on the level of their parents’ psychological distress

Does A Parent’s Mental Health Affect How Well An Adolescent Responds To Psychological Interventions?

Parents play an important role in their adolescents’ lives. When parents are suffering from their own mental health issues, their children suffer as well. For example, when parents experience psychiatric symptoms, their adolescent children are more likely to use substances or develop mood disorders. However, there is little research involving how parents’ mental health issues affect how well adolescents respond to psychological interventions, especially for interventions that target adolescents’ use of substances such as marijuana and alcohol, and their sexual risk behaviors such as engaging in unprotected sex. There is even less research of this type on adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system. Thus, the current study set out to fill these gaps in the literature.

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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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Is Social Comparison on Social Media Detrimental? It Depends on Whether You Are Comparing Abilities or Opinions

Social Media Comparison Based On Opinion, Rather Than Ability, Is Adaptive For Youth.

In the digital age, social media makes social comparison easy by providing rich materials for comparison. Social comparison is a self-evaluation process in which people compare themselves with others. Social comparison comes in two forms: comparison of ability and comparison of opinion (see herehere, and here for additional details). Ability comparison is competition-based and thus inherently judgmental. It focuses on determining the superiority or inferiority of one’s performances and achievements, relative to others. Opinion comparison is information-based. It centers on identifying similarities and differences in ideas, values, and attitudes between oneself and others.

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