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77. Transmission of depression: Parent coping style predicts stressful life events for adolescents
Adolescents are at high risk for experiencing depression if they have a parent with a history of depression. One reason for this increased risk may be that adolescents of depressed parents are exposed to higher levels of stressful life events, which then precipitate depressive episodes. The purpose of the present prospective study was to examine whether parents’ coping style predicted stressful life events for their adolescents, which then contributed to the onset of depressive episodes in youth. Participants were 240 adolescents in 6th grade, oversampled for parents with a history of depression. Parents completed a self-report measure of coping style at baseline. Adolescents completed life stress and diagnostic interviews over a 6-year follow-up period, which captured the number of stressful life events and depressive episodes that occurred from 6th to 12th grade. Results showed that higher levels of parents’ maladaptive coping (e.g., wishful thinking, avoidance) predicted higher levels of stressful life events reported by adolescents, which in turn predicted a higher number of depressive episodes in adolescents. Results of the present study suggest that parents with a maladaptive coping style may generate stressful life events for adolescents, which may then contribute to teens’ depression.