Stress generation and adolescent depression: Contribution of interpersonal stress responses

Megan Flynn, Karen D. Rudolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research examined the proposal that ineffective responses to common interpersonal problems disrupt youths' relationships, which, in turn, contributes to depression during adolescence. Youth (86 girls, 81 boys; M age = 12.41, SD = 1.19) and their primary female caregivers participated in a three-wave longitudinal study. Youth completed a measure assessing interpersonal stress responses; youth and caregivers completed semi-structured interviews assessing youths' life stress and psychopathology. Consistent with the hypothesized model, ineffective stress responses (low levels of effortful engagement, high levels of involuntary engagement and disengagement) predicted the generation of subsequent interpersonal stress, which partially accounted for the association between stress responses and depression over time. Moreover, results revealed that self-generated interpersonal, but not noninterpersonal stress, predicted depression, and that this explanatory model was specific to the prediction of depression but not anxiety. This research builds on interpersonal stress generation models of depression, and highlights the importance of implementing depression-focused intervention programs that promote effective stress responses and adaptive interpersonal relationships during adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1198
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • Interpersonal stress generation
  • Stress responses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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