Taking on the stress-depression link: Meaning as a resource in adolescence

Ellen S. Dulaney, Verena Graupmann*, Kathryn E. Grant, Emma K. Adam, Edith Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We investigated how meaning in life affects the link between stress and depression symptoms in adolescents. Adolescents (N = 177; 58.4% female, mean age = 14.75 years) reported on their meaning in life, exposure to stressors, and depression symptomatology. Higher meaning in life predicted lower depression symptoms. Importantly, meaning in life moderated the relationship between stress exposure and depressive symptoms: stress exposure was associated with higher depression when meaning in life was low, when meaning in life was high, there was no association between stressors and depression. These findings indicate the importance of having a sense of meaning in life adolescence. A positive relationship was found between stress exposure and depression symptomatology levels at a time-point seven months earlier. This lends a longitudinal perspective; meaning in life moderated a relationship that had been present for seven months. Therapeutic implications for protecting at-risk youth are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Adolescence
  • Coping
  • Depression
  • Life meaning
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Taking on the stress-depression link: Meaning as a resource in adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this