Quality of Social Relationships and the Development of Depression in Parentally-Bereaved Youth

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11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fear of abandonment has been found to be associated with mental health problems for youth who have experienced a parent's death. This article examines how youth's fears of abandonment following the death of a parent lead to later depressive symptoms by influencing relationships with caregivers, peers, and romantic partners. Participants were 109 youth ages 7-16 (50% male), assessed 4 times over a 6-year period. The ethnic composition of the sample was non-Hispanic Caucasian (67%), Hispanic (16%), African American (7%), Native American (3%), Asian (1%), and Other (6%). Youth's fears of abandonment by their surviving caregiver during the first year of data collection were related to their anxiety in romantic relationships 6 years later, which, in turn, was associated with depressive symptoms measured at 6 years. Youth's caregiver, peer, and romantic relationships at the 6-year follow-up were related to their concurrent depressive symptoms. The relationship between youth's attachment to their surviving caregiver and their depressive symptoms was stronger for younger participants. Implications of these findings for understanding the development of mental health problems following parental bereavement are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Fingerprint

Depression
Caregivers
caregiver
anxiety
Fear
Mental Health
parents
mental health
death
Bereavement
North American Indians
Caucasian
Hispanic Americans
African Americans
Anxiety
Parents

Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Bereavement
  • Depression
  • Romantic relationships
  • Social competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

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abstract = "Fear of abandonment has been found to be associated with mental health problems for youth who have experienced a parent's death. This article examines how youth's fears of abandonment following the death of a parent lead to later depressive symptoms by influencing relationships with caregivers, peers, and romantic partners. Participants were 109 youth ages 7-16 (50{\%} male), assessed 4 times over a 6-year period. The ethnic composition of the sample was non-Hispanic Caucasian (67{\%}), Hispanic (16{\%}), African American (7{\%}), Native American (3{\%}), Asian (1{\%}), and Other (6{\%}). Youth's fears of abandonment by their surviving caregiver during the first year of data collection were related to their anxiety in romantic relationships 6 years later, which, in turn, was associated with depressive symptoms measured at 6 years. Youth's caregiver, peer, and romantic relationships at the 6-year follow-up were related to their concurrent depressive symptoms. The relationship between youth's attachment to their surviving caregiver and their depressive symptoms was stronger for younger participants. Implications of these findings for understanding the development of mental health problems following parental bereavement are discussed.",
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