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09-09-2020 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2020

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2020

Pubertal Synchrony and Depressive Symptoms: Differences by Race and Sex

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2020
Allison Stumper, Amber A. Graham, Lyn Y. Abramson, Lauren B. Alloy
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Individual differences in the timing and tempo of pubertal development have been shown to be related to depressive symptoms during adolescence, particularly among girls. Another measure of variability in pubertal development is pubertal synchrony, the degree to which the development of pubertal indicators (e.g., breast growth and ancillary hair growth) are synchronized within the individual. Pubertal synchrony also has been hypothesized to be related to depressive symptoms, but, to date, only one study has tested this hypothesis. However, it remains unclear whether pubertal synchrony confers risk for depressive symptoms more proximally in time or differentially among boys or non-White youth. The current study examined the relation between pubertal synchrony and depressive symptoms concurrently and six months later as a function of race and sex in a community sample of 215 youth (53% female, 44.7% African American; mean age = 12.90 years (SD = 0.86)). Girls with asynchronous development at Time 1 reported significantly higher depressive symptoms at Time 2 than girls with synchronous development and boys with asynchronous development. In addition, boys with asynchronous development at Time 1 had lower depressive symptoms at Time 2 than boys with synchronous development. Race did not moderate pubertal synchrony—depression relations. These results suggest that pubertal asynchrony is a risk factor for girls, but a protective factor for boys, and lend support for pubertal synchrony as a potential contributor to the gender gap in depression that emerges during adolescence.

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