Emerging Adulthood and Prospective Depression: A Simultaneous Test of Cumulative Risk Theories

Joseph R. Cohen, Kari N. Thomsen, Anna Racioppi, Sergi Ballespi, Tamara Sheinbaum, Thomas R. Kwapil, Neus Barrantes-Vidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past research indicates that a history of depression and exposure to abuse and neglect represent some of the most robust predictors of depression in emerging adults. However, studies rarely test the additive or interactive risk associated with these distinct risk factors. In response, the present study explored how these three risk factors (prior depression, abuse, and neglect) synergistically predicted prospective depressive symptoms in a sample of 214 emerging adults (Mage = 21.4 years; SDage = 2.4; 78% females). Subtypes of maltreatment and lifetime history of depression were assessed through semi-structured interviews, and depressive symptoms were assessed annually for three years via self-report measures. The results indicated that for both males and females, a lifetime history of depression, abuse, and neglect-exposure uniquely conferred risk for elevated depressive symptoms. Furthermore, the interaction between neglect and prior depression forecasted increasing depressive symptoms, and a history of abuse also predicted increasing depressive symptoms, but only in females. These findings are contextualized within extant developmental psychopathology theories, and translational implications for trauma-informed depression prevention efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1353-1364
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Depression
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Longitudinal data analysis
  • Maltreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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