Background: Anxious youth are at increased risk for later depressive disorders, but not all anxious youth develop depression. Sequential comorbidity models emphasize shared risk factors and anxiety sequelae, but some anxious youth who later develop depression may have risk factors that are relatively specific to depression, in addition to a liability to anxiety. We examined several variables that appear relatively specific to risk for depression—the personality traits of low positive affectivity and high sadness, and an electrophysiological measure of blunted response to reward - in predicting first-onset depressive disorders and depressive symptoms in clinically anxious adolescent girls. Methods: A sample of 114 adolescents with baseline anxiety disorders completed personality and psychopathology measures, psychophysiology tasks, and diagnostic interviews. Interviews and a measure of depressive symptoms were re-administered over 27 months. Results: After controlling for baseline depressive symptoms, blunted reward sensitivity uniquely predicted first-onset depressive disorders and depressive symptoms 27 months later. Post-hoc analyses indicated that blunted reward sensitivity only predicted first-onset depressive disorders and depressive symptoms in girls with high social anxiety symptoms. Limitations: Analyses were unable to account for concurrent anxiety symptoms and disorders. Conclusions: The depression-specific risk factor, blunted reward sensitivity, may comprise one pathway to subsequent depressive disorders and symptoms in anxious youth and indicate which anxious youth need intervention to prevent later depression, particularly in socially anxious girls.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health