Protective and Vulnerability Factors Predicting New-Onset Depressive Episode in a Representative of U.S. Adolescents

Benjamin W. Van Voorhees*, David Paunesku, Sachiko A. Kuwabara, Anirban Basu, Jackie Gollan, Benjamin L. Hankin, Stephanie Melkonian, Mark Reinecke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Purpose: Depressive episodes cause considerable morbidity and mortality in adolescents. We sought to identify factors predicting new onset depressive episode in a representative sample of U.S. adolescents. Methods: We conducted logistic regression analyses to identify baseline individual, family, school/peer and community factors predicting new-onset depressive episode at a 1-year follow-up in a longitudinal cohort study of 4791 U.S. adolescents. Potential protective and vulnerability factors included individual (sociodemographics, general health and maturity, coping behavior, self-concept, and affect regulation), family (connectedness and conflict), school/peers (acceptance and performance), and community (engagement, delinquency, and adverse events). Results: African American and Hispanic ethnicity, female gender, and low-income status predicted higher risk of onset of a depressive episode. Active coping and positive self-concept, predicted lower risk, whereas poor affect regulation and greater depressed mood predicted higher risk. Family "connectedness," parental warmth, peer acceptance, better school performance, and religious activities were protective, whereas parental conflict, delinquent activities, and greater numbers of adverse events increased risk of depressive episodes. Conclusions: Female gender, nonwhite ethnicity, low-income status, poor health, and parental conflict, increase risk of a depressive episode. Physicians should consider recommending behaviors that enhance perceived fitness, favorable self-concept, family connectedness, peer acceptance, and community engagement to youth as means a of mitigating this risk for developing a depressive episode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-616
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Adolescent
  • Depressive disorder
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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