Victimization and traumatic stress: Pathways to depressive symptoms among low-income, African-American girls. Child abuse & neglect Gershon, A., Hayward, L., Donenberg, G. R., Wilson, H. 2018; 86: 223–34


Socioeconomic disadvantage is associated with increased exposure to victimization and traumatic stress. The present study evaluates longitudinal pathways linking victimization and trauma to depressive symptoms in a socioeconomically disadvantaged sample of African-American adolescent girls seeking mental health services (N?=?177, 12-16 years old at baseline). Girls completed four assessments over the course of three years (T1-T4). Depressive symptoms were assessed at T1-T3 using clinical interviews and questionnaires. At T4, lifetime history of victimization and traumatic stressors was evaluated with in-person interviews. Separate structural equation models tested longitudinal pathways from stressor frequency, severity, and duration to depressive symptoms. In all three models, higher levels of victimization and traumatic stressors were associated with significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms. More frequent stressors prior to T1 directly predicted depressive symptoms at T1 and indirectly predicted depressive symptoms at T2, which, in turn, predicted depressive symptoms at T3. A similar pattern emerged in the stressor severity and duration models. Findings support the idea that victimization and traumatic stressors are associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms and that, among treatment-seeking low-income adolescent girls, these effects occur through both direct and indirect paths. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of the stress-generation and stress proliferation models of psychopathology.

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