Understanding the Impact of Prior Depression on Stress Generation

Examining the Roles of Current Depressive Symptoms and Interpersonal Behaviours

Published In: British Journal of Psychology, v. 99, no. 3, Aug. 2008, p. 413-426

Posted on RAND.org on August 01, 2008

by Josephine H. Shih, Nicole K. Eberhart

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Stress generation is a process in which individuals contribute to stressful life events. While research has supported an association between current depression and stress generation, it has been noted that individuals with prior depression tend to contribute to stressors even when they are no longer experiencing a depressive episode. The aim of the study is to elucidate the pathways through which prior major depression predicts interpersonal stress generation in women. Specifically, we examined current subsyndromal depressive symptoms and problematic interpersonal behaviours as potential mediators. Fifty-one college women were followed prospectively for 6 weeks. Participants were interviewed to assess current and past depression as well as stressful life events they experienced over the 6-week period. The findings suggest that prior major depression continues to have an impact even after the episode has ended, as the disorder continues to contribute to stress generation through residual depressive symptoms.

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