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Childhood mistreatment and adolescent and young adult depression

  • Fletcher, Jason M.

In this paper, I use a nationally representative sample of adolescents from the United States to examine the association between childhood mistreatment (sexual abuse and physical abuse) and depression during adolescence and young adulthood. Researchers have implicated childhood mistreatment as one of the most important predictors of depression. An alternative mechanism linking childhood mistreatment with adolescent and young adult depression is community and family disadvantage (or other factors) that affect both outcomes. Using data from the restricted version of the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this paper outlines several findings of the relationship between mistreatment and depression as well as the gender differences in depression. First, I find very limited evidence that controlling for common environmental factors at the school or neighborhood level explain the relationship between mistreatment and depression. Also, I show that controlling for common family factors decreases the predictive power of childhood mistreatment on depression. Results in this paper generally support previous research that shows the link between childhood mistreatment and depression is most important for females, even within families. Finally, results suggest that the effects of child mistreatment on depression may increase as individuals age.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (March)
Pages: 799-806

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:5:p:799-806
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  1. Romito, Patrizia & Grassi, Michele, 2007. "Does violence affect one gender more than the other? The mental health impact of violence among male and female university students," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(6), pages 1222-1234, September.
  2. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," NBER Working Papers 11577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jason M. Fletcher, 2008. "Adolescent depression: diagnosis, treatment, and educational attainment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(11), pages 1215-1235.
  4. Schilling, Elizabeth A. & Aseltine, Robert H. & Gore, Susan, 2008. "The impact of cumulative childhood adversity on young adult mental health: Measures, models, and interpretations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(5), pages 1140-1151, March.
  5. Currie, Janet & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?," IZA Discussion Papers 2063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Vivian H. Hamilton & Philip Merrigan & √Čric Dufresne, 1997. "Down and out: estimating the relationship between mental health and unemployment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(4), pages 397-406.
  7. Jason Fletcher & Barbara L. Wolfe, 2007. "Child Mental Health and Human Capital Accumulation: The Case of ADHD Revisited," NBER Working Papers 13474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 64-81, October.
  9. Needham, Belinda L., 2007. "Gender differences in trajectories of depressive symptomatology and substance use during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(6), pages 1166-1179, September.
  10. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Currie, Janet & Stabile, Mark, 2006. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1094-1118, November.
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