Relatively few studies have examined multiple pathways by which risk factors from different domains are related to symptoms of anxiety and depression in young children; even fewer have assessed risks for these symptoms specifically, rather than for internalizing symptoms in general. We examined a theoretically- and empirically-based model of variables associated with these symptom types in a diverse community sample of 796 4-year-olds (391 boys, 405 girls) that included factors from the following domains: contextual (SES, stress and family conflict); parent characteristics (parental depression); parenting (support/engagement, hostility and scaffolding); and child characteristics including negative affect (NA) effortful control (EC) sensory regulation (SR), inhibitory control (IC) and attachment. We also compared the models to determine which variables contribute to a common correlates of symptoms of anxiety or depression, and which correlates differentiate between those symptom types. In the best-fitting model for these symptom types (a) SES, stress and conflict had indirect effects on both symptom types via long-chain paths; (b) caregiver depression had direct effects and indirect ones (mediated through parenting and child effortful control) on both symptom types; (c) parenting had direct and indirect effects (via temperament and SR); and temperament had direct effects on both symptom types. These data provide evidence of common risk factors, as well as indicate some specific pathways/mediators for the different symptom types. EC was related to anxiety, but not depression symptoms, suggesting that strategies to improve child EC may be particularly effective for treatment of anxiety symptoms in young children.
- Common factors
- Depression and anxiety symptoms
- Multi-domain risk factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health