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01-10-2012 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 10/2012

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 10/2012

Developmental Associations Between Adolescent Change in Depressive Symptoms and Menstrual-Cycle-Phase-Specific Negative Affect During Early Adulthood

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 10/2012
Jeff Kiesner, François Poulin


The causal factors associated with increases in depressive symptoms among adolescent girls remain an area of theoretical debate, and the limited research considering a hormonal influence has provided mixed results. The goal of the present study was to test a set of longitudinal associations, that, if found, would provide support for a hormonal contribution to these changes. Specifically, this study tested the hypotheses that changes in depressive symptoms among adolescent girls would be associated with phase-specific symptoms of the menstrual cycle during early adulthood; that these associations would differ across three phases of the menstrual cycle; and that the pattern of associations would differ for changes in depressive symptoms during early- and late-adolescence. The sample consisted of 47 women with longitudinal data from 12 to 21 years old (approximately 91% European Canadian, 4% Middle Eastern Canadian, 2% Haitian Canadian, and 2% Asian Canadian). Consistent with expectations, results showed that early-adolescent increases in depressive symptoms were negatively associated with menstrual-phase negative affect, and positively associated with mid-cycle negative affect, but not associated with premenstrual negative affect; whereas late-adolescent change in depressive symptoms was only associated with depressive symptoms at 20–21 years. Thus, early-adolescent changes in depressive symptoms are longitudinally associated with later mood change across the menstrual cycle, suggesting a common underlying cause, which is hypothesized to be hormonal. Moreover, results suggest that, with respect to variables that are involved in affective development, important differences exist between early- and late-adolescence. The discussion considers menstrual-cycle-related symptoms (e.g., dysmenorrhea) during adolescence, and the need to study their effects on development. It is suggested that focused intervention and prevention efforts may be indicated to interrupt negative developmental outcomes.

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