Loneliness, Stress and Depression over the Transition to Adulthood: Physiological and Interpersonal Pathways

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Loneliness, Stress, and Depression over the Transition to Adulthood: Interpersonal and Physiological Pathways Leah Darrah Doane During the transition into adulthood, youth experience substantial stressful changes as they navigate shifts in their interpersonal, familial, educational and economic domains of life. This dissertation aims to understand how the unique experiences of this age period "get under the skin" to influence psychopathology, by using two longitudinal datasets to examine the interrelations among social relationships, loneliness, stress hormone activity and depressive disorders. This dissertation consists of three studies. My first study utilizes a large nationally representative sample of youth. Using multi-level growth modeling, I seek to understand whether changes in parental relationship quality can predict changes in depressive symptoms over the transition to adulthood. While I find variation across sub-groups and associations between symptoms and interpersonal relationships, I do not find evidence of causal links between changes in relationship quality and changes in symptoms. My second and third studies examine a diverse community sample of adolescents at risk for mood and anxiety disorders to estimate associations among diagnosed psychopathology, individual differences in stress hormone activity, and everyday emotions and experiences. These studies provide evidence that feelings of sadness and loneliness as well as past and current episodes of depressive disorders are important psychosocial correlates of youth physiological stress processes. Taken together, the three studies in my dissertation begin to uncover the pathways by which youth emotional and interpersonal experiences "get under the skin" to affect biological processes and mental health outcomes.

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  • 09/14/2018
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