Specificity of Stress Generation

A Comparison of Adolescents with Depressive, Anxiety, and Comorbid Diagnoses

Published In: International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, v. 3, no. 4, Dec. 2010, p. 368-379

Posted on RAND.org on December 01, 2010

by Nicole P. Connolly, Nicole K. Eberhart, Constance L. Hammen, Patricia A. Brennan

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Individuals with a history of depression experience more stress that is dependent in part on their own actions. However, it is unclear whether stress generation is a unique feature of depression, or a universal process that is also present in other types of psychopathology, such as anxiety disorders. The current study addressed this issue by comparing adolescents with a history of "pure" (i.e., non-comorbid) depressive disorders, pure anxiety disorders, comorbid depression and anxiety, and no disorder, on their levels of dependent and independent stress. Results indicated that adolescents with pure depression experienced more dependent stress than adolescents with pure anxiety, and adolescents with any internalizing diagnosis experienced more dependent stress than controls. Further, adolescents with comorbid depression and anxiety reported the highest levels of stress generation. The results suggest that while stress generation may be more strongly associated with depression than anxiety in adolescence, it is not unique to depression.

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