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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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16. Does stress mediate the within-person longitudinal associations between depression and different anxiety syndromes in youth? A random intercept model approach

Past studies of the temporal sequencing of depression and anxiety have been hampered by not precisely separating between- from within-persons influences. We recently found that depressive symptoms predicted later social anxiety and physical anxiety symptoms within-persons when properly modeled using a random intercept cross-lagged panel model (RI-CLPM). However, potential mediators of these within-person associations remain understudied. The current study examined whether stress mediates these within person associations between depression and anxiety in 681 community youth aged 8-18 (55% female) using a RI-CLPM. Participants completed measures of anxiety, depression, and stress every 3 months for 3 years (13 total assessments). Direct paths from depression to stress were significant. Direct paths from stress to subsequent symptoms of physical (b=.026) and social anxiety (b=.025) were significant; stress did not predict separation anxiety (b=.004). The indirect effects of depression on physical anxiety (b=.005, p=.007) and social anxiety (b=.004, p=.02) through stress were significant; the indirect effect of depression on separation anxiety was not (b=.000). Results support the role of stress generation as a mediator of the association between depression and anxiety. As youth experience depression-related impairment, they may generate additional stressors, which increase their symptoms of physical and social anxiety.

Erin Long
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jami Young
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Benjamin Hankin
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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