British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Antecedents of transition patterns of depressive symptom trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood

This study examined (a) transition patterns from adolescent‐specific depressive symptom trajectory classes to young adult‐specific trajectory classes (N = 537; 15–26 years) and (b) identified risk factors associated with these transition patterns. The latent classes and transition analyses identified three transitional patterns of depressive symptom trajectories, including a deteriorating pattern (8.2%), a recovering pattern (22.5%), and a consistently low pattern (69.3%). Additionally, the results showed that contextual risk factors (i.e., negative economic events, negative romantic relationships, and low college enrolment rates) in the transition period to young adulthood were more positively associated with deteriorated or recovered transition patterns of depressive symptom trajectories than with the consistently low transition patterns even after taking into account the effects of adolescent risk factors. The identification of dynamic transition patterns in depressive symptom trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood and risk factors provide useful tools for preventive and intervention efforts.

What is already known on this subject?

  • Heterogeneous trajectories of depressive symptoms across adolescence and young adulthood have been reported.
  • Psychosocial characteristics differentiate trajectories of depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood.

What does this study add?

  • Dynamic transition patterns of depressive symptom trajectories are found between adolescence and young adulthood.
  • Life experiences in the transition period are uniquely associated with the transition patterns of depressive symptom trajectories even after adjusting the effects of adolescent characteristics.

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