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Title page for ETD etd-03262010-224018

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Downs, Lindsay E.
Author's Email Address lindsay.downs@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03262010-224018
Title Modeling Longitudinal Relations Between Stress and Depressive Symptoms: Coping as a Mediator
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bruce Compas Committee Member
Judy Garber Committee Member
  • Adolescent
  • Psychopathology
  • Emotion Regulation
Date of Defense 2010-03-31
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this prospective study was to examine the relations among stressful life events, coping, and depressive symptoms in a sample of children at varied risk for depression. Although links among stress, coping, and psychopathology have been found, the extent to which specific types of coping strategies longitudinally mediate the relation between stress and depressive symptoms remains unclear.

Analyses utilizing structural equation modeling compared three models involving primary control, secondary control, and disengagement coping as mediators of the relation between stressful life events and depressive symptoms in youth. It was hypothesized that there would be a positive relation between prior stressful life events and subsequent depressive symptoms in children at the next time point. Moreover, we expected this relation to be indirect and partially mediated by coping strategies. The results from the analysis provide evidence that one potential mechanism by which stressful life events may exert negative effects on children is through their using primary control coping strategies less and using less adaptive coping strategies such as disengagement more. These findings are consistent with a theoretical model, which posits that the adverse effects of prolonged stress lead to impairments in the ability to cope. In turn, the absence of primary control response strategies, such as problem-solving, and the presence of such coping behaviors as avoidance and denial under conditions of stress are likely to lead to worse outcomes.

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