Dr. Jeremy Stewart uses a multi-method approach to understand the onset and worsening of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among youth. Most adolescents who think of suicide will not make attempts, and many robust predictors of suicide ideation (e.g., depression) are not associated with attempts among ideators. Thus, guided by a developmental psychopathology framework, Dr. Stewart aims to identify cognitive and behavioural processes that may contribute the escalation from suicidal thinking to actions. Dr. Stewart’s teaching interests include developmental psychopathology, the assessment and treatment of mental disorders in children and adolescents, and the etiology of self-destructive behaviours.
Research Items (33)
Background: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents, and depressed youth are six times more likely to make suicide attempts as compared to non-depressed adolescents. The present study examined the unique and interactive effects of two well-established correlates of suicidality – childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and disinhibition – in predicting suicide attempts among depressed adolescents. Method: Participants were 163 adolescents (125 females) aged 13 to 18 (M = 15.60, SD = 1.27) diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (n = 95, 58.3%) and/or Dysthymia (n = 69, 42.3%) recruited from an acute residential treatment service. Participants completed interviews assessing psychopathology and suicidality, self-report measures of depressive symptoms and CSA, and a computerized disinhibition task. Results: Consistent with hypotheses, CSA moderated the association between disinhibition and adolescents’ report of their past year and lifetime suicide attempts. Specifically, higher disinhibition was associated with a greater likelihood of having made a suicide attempt among adolescents with a history of CSA, but not among those without. The same pattern of results held in analyses of suicide attempt frequency. Limitations: Primary findings were based on observational, cross-sectional data, and therefore, causal relationships cannot be inferred. The gender imbalance in the sample precluded stratifying our analyses by gender. CSA was ascertained by self-report; replication of the results with more objective measures is warranted. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that CSA and disinhibition may work together to predict elevated suicide risk, and these results have implications for early identification efforts in youth at high risk for suicide. Keywords: adolescence, impulsivity, depression, suicide, child sexual abuse
Objective: Mental illness and suicidal ideation are among the strongest correlates of suicidal behaviors, but few adolescents with these risk factors make a suicide attempt. Therefore, it is critical to identify factors associated with the transition from suicide ideation to attempts. The present study tested whether deficits in cognitive control in the context of suicide-relevant stimuli (ie, suicide interference) reliably differentiated adolescent ideators and attempters. Methods: Adolescents (n = 99; 71 girls) aged 13-18 years (mean = 15.53, SD = 1.34) with recent suicide ideation (n = 60) or a recent suicide attempt (n = 39) were recruited from an acute residential treatment facility between August 2012 and December 2013. We measured interference to suicide-related, negative, and positive words using the Suicide Stroop Task (SST). Results: When stimuli were analyzed separately, suicide attempters showed greater interference for suicide (t₉₇ = 2.04, P = .044, d = 0.41) and positive (t₉₇ = 2.63, P = .010, d = 0.53) stimuli compared to suicide ideators. An additional omnibus interference (suicide, negative, positive) x group (suicide ideator, suicide attempter) analysis of variance revealed a main effect of group (F1,97 = 4.31, P = .041, ηp² = 0.04) but no interaction (P = .166), indicating that attempters showed greater interference for emotional stimuli, regardless of valence. Multiple attempters drove this effect; single attempters and ideators did not differ in SST performance (P = .608). Conclusions: General deficits in cognitive control in the context of emotional stimuli may be a marker of adolescent suicide risk.
Adolescent non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidality are serious health concerns; however, factors that contribute to the transition from NSSI to suicide ideation and suicide attempts are unclear. To address this gap, we investigated whether demographic characteristics, child maltreatment, and psychiatric factors are associated with the level suicidality among adolescents with a history of self-injury. Participants were three groups of adolescent inpatient self-injurers (n = 397, 317 female), aged 13-18 years (M = 15.44, SD = 1.36): (a) non-ideators (n = 96; no current suicide ideation and no lifetime suicide attempts), (b) suicide ideators (n = 149; current ideation and no lifetime attempts), and (c) suicide attempters (n = 152; current ideation and at least one lifetime attempt). Participants completed interviews assessing psychiatric diagnoses, suicidality, and NSSI characteristics, as well as questionnaires on childhood trauma, psychiatric symptoms, and risky behavior engagement. Depression severity was associated with greater odds being a suicide ideator (p < .001, OR=1.04) and an attempter (p < .001, OR = 1.05) compared to a non-ideator. Suicide attempters used more NSSI methods and reported greater risky behavior engagement than non-ideators (p = .03, OR = 1.29 and p = .03, OR = 1.06, respectively) and ideators (p = .015, OR = 1.25 and p = .04, OR = 1.05, respectively); attempters used more severe NSSI methods (e.g., burning). Our results identify a wide range of risk markers for increasing lethality in a sample at high risk for suicide mortality; future research is needed to refine risk assessments for adolescent self-injurers and determine the clinical utility of using risk markers for screening and intervention.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among youth worldwide, and depressed adolescents are at a significantly elevated risk to report suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts. Peer victimization is a robust predictor of adolescent suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs), but little research has focused on why bullying leads to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. To address this empirical gap, we recruited 340 (246 female) depressed adolescents ages 13-19 (M = 15.59, SD = 1.41) within 48 hours of admission for acute psychiatric treatment. At the initial assessment, participants were administered clinical interviews characterizing psychopathology, nonsuicidal self-injury, and STBs (ideation, plans, and attempts). Further, they completed questionnaires assessing 3 forms of victimization (overt, relational, and reputational), recent risky behavior engagement, and psychiatric symptom severity. Controlling for internalizing symptoms and age, overt and reputational bullying were associated with more frequent past month suicide attempts, but not suicide ideation. Past month risky behavior engagement, but not NSSI, mediated the relation between victimization and attempts. However, sex differences revealed that this effect only held for males whereas bullying was directly associated with suicide attempts among females. In contrast, overt and relational bullying were non-linearly associated with suicide plans, and these relations were not mediated by risky behaviors or NSSI. Results highlight the complex network of factors that lead victimized adolescents to engage in STBs and may inform targeted suicide prevention and intervention programs.
Stress exposure is central to theories of suicide. To advance understanding of the relation between stress and suicide, we examined whether specific, theoretically-pertinent life stressors were differentially related to suicidal thinking versus suicidal behaviors among hospitalized adolescents. Participants were 197 (144 female) adolescents aged 13 to 19 years old (M = 15.61, SD = 1.48) recruited from an acute residential psychiatric treatment program. Participants were categorized into mutually exclusive groups: psychiatric controls (n = 38) with no lifetime history of suicide ideation or suicide attempts, suicide ideators (n = 99) with current ideation and no lifetime attempts, and suicide attempters (n = 60) with a lifetime history of suicide ideation and at least one attempt in the past month. Adolescents completed the Stress and Adversity Inventory for Adolescents (Adolescent STRAIN), which assessed life events and chronic difficulties occurring in five social-psychological categories: Interpersonal Loss, Physical Danger, Humiliation, Entrapment, and Role Change/Disruption. Additionally, they completed a structured interview and symptom questionnaires to capture concurrent psychopathology. Controlling for demographic and clinical covariates, only Interpersonal Loss events distinguished attempters from psychiatric controls (OR = 2.27) and ideators (OR = 1.49); no events or difficulties differentiated ideators from controls. These effects persisted when analyses were restricted to single attempters and when events following the most recent attempt were excluded. The findings elucidate potential social-environmental triggers of suicide. Ultimately, this may improve the identification of ideators most likely to make an attempt, enabling the deployment of targeted early interventions.
- May 2019
Behavioral measures are increasingly used to assess suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Some measures, such as the Suicide Stroop Task, have yielded mixed findings in the literature. An understudied feature of these behavioral measures has been their psychometric properties, which may affect the probability of detecting significant effects and reproducibility. In the largest investigation of its kind, we tested the internal consistency and concurrent validity of the Suicide Stroop Task in its current form, drawing from seven separate studies (N = 875 participants, 64% female, aged 12 to 81 years). Results indicated that the most common Suicide Stroop scoring approach, interference scores, yielded unacceptably low internal consistency (rs = -.09-.13) and failed to demonstrate concurrent validity. Internal consistency coefficients for mean reaction times (RTs) to each stimulus type ranged from rs = .93-.94. All scoring approaches for suicide-related interference demonstrated poor classification accuracy (AUCs = .52-.56) indicating that scores performed near chance in their ability to classify suicide attempters from nonattempters. In the case of mean RTs, we did not find evidence for concurrent validity despite our excellent reliability findings, highlighting that reliability does not guarantee a measure is clinically useful. These results are discussed in the context of the wider implications for testing and reporting psychometric properties of behavioral measures in mental health research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Background Numerous theories have posited that stressors occurring over the lifespan may exert a cumulative effect on psychological and biological processes that increase individuals’ risk for a variety of mental and physical health problems. Given the difficulty associated with assessing lifetime stress exposure, however, few empirical studies have directly tested these cumulative risk models of psychopathology and human health. Method To address this issue, we examined the usability, acceptability, concurrent validity, and predictive validity of the recently developed Stress and Adversity Inventory for Adolescents (Adolescent STRAIN) in 338 youth (Mage = 15.64; 229 females) seeking mental health treatment. Results The Adolescent STRAIN achieved high acceptability and was completed in approximately 25 min (interquartile range: 20–32 min). Concurrent associations with other measures of early adversity (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire‐Short Form) and interpersonal stress (Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire) were very good (rs = .50–.59). In analyses that adjusted for participants’ age, sex, and race, the STRAIN was significantly associated with depression, anxiety, and anhedonia severity; general mental and physical health complaints; risky behavior engagement; and number of interviewer‐based psychiatric diagnoses (βs = .16–.52; risk ratios = 1.006–1.014). Contrary to classic theories of stress which assume that different stressors exert similar effects on health, substantial differences were observed across the two stressor types, twelve life domains, and five core social‐psychological characteristics assessed by the Adolescent STRAIN. Conclusions These data confirm the relevance of lifetime stress exposure for multiple health outcomes in adolescence, which can in turn inform existing theories of lifespan health. Because stress is a common presenting problem in hospitals and clinics, these data also suggest the possibility of using the Adolescent STRAIN to generate stress exposure profiles for case conceptualization and treatment planning purposes.
Background: : While prior research has demonstrated that peer victimization and bully perpetration contribute to non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs), it remains unclear whether these interpersonal processes differentiate self-injuring adolescent suicide ideators and attempters. Methods: : The study included adolescents aged 13–18 years (n = 223; M = 15.31, SD = 1.34) recruited from an acute inpatient program. Participants were divided into two groups: (1) NSSISI (n = 106): endorsed past year NSSI, current suicide ideation, and no lifetime suicide attempts and (2) NSSISI+SA (n = 117): endorsed past year NSSI, current suicide ideation, and lifetime suicide attempts. Adolescents completed clinical interviews (i.e., mental disorders, NSSI, and STBs) and self-report measures assessing peer victimization, bully perpetration, and depression severity. Results: : NSSISI+SA youth reported higher levels of peer victimization and bully perpetration than NSSISI youth (ps < 0.01, ds = 0.36–0.37). Among the NSSISI+SA youth, bully perpetration was associated with a greater number of past month suicide attempts (p = 0.02, RR = 1.07). Only peer victimization was associated with greater NSSI behaviors in the past month (p = 0.04, RR = 1.01). Limitations: : The study is cross-sectional, and reports of peer victimization and bully perpetration rely on self-report assessment. Conclusions: Peer victimization and bully perpetration differentiated adolescent suicide ideators and attempters, highlighting the need to address bully perpetration in addition to peer victimization in suicide interventions and research.
- May 2018
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an empirically supported treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD) in adults, however fewer studies have examined outcomes in adolescents. This study tested the effectiveness of an intensive 1-month, residential DBT treatment for adolescent girls meeting criteria for BPD. Additionally, given well-established associations between BPD symptoms and childhood abuse, the impact of abuse on treatment outcomes was assessed. Participants were female youth (n = 53) aged 13–20 years (M = 17.00, SD = 1.89) completing a 1-month residential DBT program. At pre-treatment, participants were administered a diagnostic interview and self-report measures assessing BPD, depression, and anxiety symptom severity. Following one month of treatment, participants were re-administered the self-report instruments. Results showed significant pre- to post-treatment reductions in both BPD and depression symptom severity with large effects. However, there was no significant change in general anxious distress or anxious arousal over time. The experience of childhood abuse (sexual, physical, or both) was tested as moderator of treatment effectiveness. Although experiencing multiple types of abuse was related to symptom severity, abuse did not moderate the effects of treatment. Collectively, results indicate that a 1-month residential DBT treatment with adolescents may result in reductions in BPD and depression severity but is less effective for anxiety. Moreover, while youth reporting abuse benefitted from treatment, they were less likely to achieve a clinically significant reduction in symptoms.
- Sep 2017
The Concise Health Risk Tracking Self-Report (CHRT-SR) scale is a brief self-report instrument to assess suicide risk. Initial investigations have indicated good psychometric properties in psychiatric outpatients. The aims of this paper were to examine the construct validity and factor structure of the twelve- (CHRT-SR12) and seven-item (CHRT-SR7) versions and to test if clinically expected within-person changes in suicide risk over time were measurable using the CHRT-SR in two study cohorts hospitalized for suicidal ideation or behavior: (1) patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who participated in a psychological intervention trial, n = 65, and (2) participants with bipolar disorder or MDD in an observational study, n = 44. The CHRT-SR12 and self-report measures of hopelessness, depression, and positive psychological states were administered during admission and several times post-discharge. Both versions showed good internal consistency in inpatients and confirmed the three-factor structure (i.e., hopelessness, perceived lack of social support and active suicidal ideation and plans) found in outpatients. CHRT-SR scores had strong correlations with negative and positive affective constructs in the expected directions, and indicated decreases in suicide risk following discharge, in line with clinical expectations. The CHRT-SR12 and CHRT-SR7 are promising self-report measures for assessing suicide risk in very high-risk patient populations.
- Jul 2017
The Emotional Interrupt Task (EIT) has been used to probe emotion processing in healthy and clinical samples; however, research exploring the stability and reliability of behavioral measures and event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited from this task is limited. Establishing the psychometric properties of the EIT is critical, particularly as phenotypes and biological indicators may represent trait-like characteristics that underlie psychiatric illness. To address this gap, test-retest stability and internal consistency of behavioral indices and ERPs resulting from the EIT in healthy, female youth (n = 28) were examined. At baseline, participants were administered the EIT while high-density 128-channel electroencephalography (EEG) data were recorded to probe the late positive potential (LPP). One month later, participants were re-administered the EIT. Four principal findings emerged. First, there is evidence of an interference effect at baseline, as participants showed a slower reaction time for unpleasant and pleasant images relative to neutral images, and test-retest of behavioral measures was relatively stable over time. Second, participants showed a potentiated LPP to unpleasant and pleasant images compared to neutral images, and these effects were stable over time. Moreover, in a test of the difference waves (unpleasant-neutral versus pleasant-neutral), there was sustained positivity for unpleasant images. Third, behavioral measures and LPP demonstrated excellent internal consistency (odd/even correlations) across conditions. Fourth, highlighting important age-related differences in LPP activity, younger age was associated with larger LPP amplitudes across conditions. Overall, these findings suggest that the LPP following emotional images is a stable and reliable marker of emotion processing in healthy youth.
Anhedonia is a transdiagnostic risk factor implicated in mental illness onset, treatment non-response, and suicidal behaviors. Prior cross-sectional research in adults has shown that anhedonia is associated with reduced dorsal striatal volume, but it is unknown whether this relationship extends to adolescents and whether reduced striatal volume prospectively predicts anhedonia. To address these gaps, the current study investigated whether striatal volume predicted anhedonia severity in adolescents. At baseline, healthy female adolescents aged 12-14 years (n = 50) completed a clinical assessment, and structural MRI data were acquired on a 3 Tesla MR scanner. While in the scanner, participants also completed a peer feedback task where subjective ratings following peer “acceptance” or “rejection” were obtained. At the three-month follow-up, participants provided self-report assessments of anhedonia, depression, and anxiety symptoms. Three main findings emerged. First, in cross-sectional analyses, right nucleus accumbens volume was inversely related to anhedonia severity. Second, reduced bilateral putamen volume prospectively predicted anhedonia severity while controlling for baseline anhedonia, depression, and anxiety symptoms. Third, a blunted subjective response to peer acceptance (i.e., neutral response to positive feedback), but not a more negative subjective response to peer rejection, contributed to anhedonia severity, but only among youth with smaller putamen volume. Collectively, these results suggest that smaller volume in striatal regions critically implicated in reward processing is associated with current and future anhedonic symptoms among healthy female youth. These anatomical features may confer vulnerability to anhedonia and thus, may inform early identification of individuals at high risk for mental illness.
- Nov 2016
Background Positive psychological constructs have been associated with reduced suicidal ideation, and interventions to cultivate positive feelings have the potential to reduce suicide risk. This study compares the efficacy of a 6-week, telephone-based positive psychology (PP) intervention against a cognition-focused (CF) control intervention among patients recently hospitalized for depression and suicidal ideation or behavior. Method A total of 65 adults with a current major depressive episode reporting suicidal ideation or a recent suicide attempt were enrolled from participating in-patient psychiatric units. Prior to discharge, participants were randomized to the PP ( n = 32) or CF ( n = 33) intervention. In both interventions, participants received a treatment manual, performed weekly PP (e.g. gratitude letter) or CF (e.g. recalling daily events) exercises, and completed weekly one-on-one telephone sessions over 6 weeks. Between-group differences in hopelessness (primary outcome), depression, suicidality and positive psychological constructs at 6 and 12 weeks were tested using mixed-effects models accounting for intensity of post-hospitalization psychiatric treatment. Results Compared with PP, the CF intervention was associated with significantly greater improvements in hopelessness at 6 weeks ( β = −3.15, 95% confidence interval −6.18 to −0.12, effect size = −0.84, p = 0.04), but not 12 weeks. Similarly, the CF intervention led to greater improvements in depression, suicidal ideation, optimism and gratitude at 6 and 12 weeks. Conclusions Contrary to our hypothesis, the CF intervention was superior to PP in improving hopelessness, other suicide risk factors and positive psychological constructs during a key post-discharge period among suicidal patients with depression. Further study of this CF intervention is warranted in populations at high suicide risk.
- Oct 2016
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents, and impulsivity has emerged as a promising marker of risk. The present study tested whether distinct domains of impulsivity are differentially associated with suicide ideation, plans, and attempts. Adolescents (n = 381; boys = 106, girls = 275) aged 13-19 years (M = 15.62, SD = 1.41) were recruited from an acute, residential treatment program. Within 48 hours of admission to the hospital, participants were administered structured clinical interviews assessing mental health disorders and suicidality. Following these interviews, participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing symptom severity and impulsivity. Consistent with past research, an exploratory factor analysis of our 90-item impulsivity instrument resulted in a three-factor solution: Pervasive Influence of Feelings, Feelings Trigger Action, and Lack of Follow-Through. Concurrent analysis of these factors confirmed hypotheses of unique associations with suicide ideation and attempts in the past month. Specifically, whereas Pervasive Influence of Feelings (i.e., tendency for emotions to shape thoughts about the self and the future) is uniquely associated with greater suicidal ideation, Feelings Trigger Action (i.e., impulsive behavioral reactivity to emotions) is uniquely associated with the occurrence of suicide attempts, even after controlling for current psychiatric diagnoses and symptoms. Exploratory gender analyses revealed that these effects were significant in female but not male adolescents. These findings provide new insight about how specific domains of impulsivity differentially increase risk for suicide ideation and attempts. Implications for early identification and prevention of youth suicide are discussed.
- Sep 2016
Background: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by greater engagement in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidality. The aim of the study is to test whether the occurrence of child abuse contributes to these high-risk behaviors in BPD youth. Materials and Methods: BPD female youth aged 13-21 years with (n = 29) and without (n = 29) a history of child abuse were administered clinical interviews assessing diagnostic history, child abuse, NSSI and suicidality (i.e., ideation, plans, attempts). NSSI and suicidality were subsequently reevaluated at the 1- and 2-month follow-up assessments. Results: Several findings emerged. First, relative to BPD youth without abuse, the abuse group reported greater past NSSI; however, no significant differences emerged in the follow-up period. Second, the occurrence of child abuse was associated with a 5-fold increase in the rate of lifetime suicide attempts relative to the no abuse group and additionally, prospectively predicted suicide ideation (but not attempts). Last, exploratory analyses indicated that the co-occurrence of physical and sexual abuse was associated with greater past NSSI and suicidality as compared to the no abuse and sexual abuse only participants. Conclusion: As a whole, child abuse—particularly co-occurring physical and sexual abuse— increases risk for NSSI and suicidality among BPD youth, which may have important treatment implications in this high-risk population.
Objective: This study tested whether core beliefs with themes of abandonment and rejection moderated the link between trait and behavioral excessive reassurance seeking (ERS) and interpersonal rejection. Method: Participants were 118 women with high (n = 43; mean [M]age = 18.58, standard deviation [SD]age = 1.24) and low (n = 75; Mage = 18.58, SDage = 1.24) levels of depression symptoms and their male romantic partners. Couples reported their depression, ERS, abandonment/rejection cognitions, and relationship quality. We also coded women's reassurance-seeking behavior during an audiotaped discussion task. Results: Among women with high levels of depression symptoms and low levels of abandonment/rejection core beliefs, behavioral ERS was associated with lower partner-reported relationship quality. Self-reported ERS was significantly associated with partner relationship quality, but the effect was not moderated by depression or core beliefs. Conclusions: ERS is a potent predictor of stress and subsequent depression. Our findings underscore the need to better understand factors (e.g., cognitions, partner characteristics) that may determine whether ERS behaviors beget interpersonal stress and rejection.
- Apr 2016
Background: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is debilitating, and theoretical models have postulated that cognitive-affective biases contribute to the onset and maintenance of BPD symptoms. Despite advances, our understanding of BPD pathophysiology in youth is limited. The present study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to identify cognitive-affective processes that underlie negative self-referential processing in BPD youth. Methods: Healthy females (n = 33) and females with BPD (n = 26) 13 to 22 years of age completed a self-referential encoding task while 128-channel electroencephalography data were recorded to examine early (i.e., P1 and P2) and late (late positive potential [LPP]) ERP components. Whole-brain standardized low-resolution electromagnetic tomography explored intracortical sources underlying significant scalp ERP effects. Results: Compared to healthy females, participants with BPD endorsed, recalled, and recognized fewer positive and more negative words. Moreover, unlike the healthy group, females with BPD had faster reaction times to endorse negative versus positive words. In the scalp ERP analyses, the BPD group had greater P2 and late LPP positivity to negative as opposed to positive words. For P2 and late LPP, whole-brain standardized low-resolution electromagnetic tomography analyses suggested that females with BPD overrecruit frontolimbic circuitry in response to negative stimuli. Conclusions: Collectively, these findings show that females with BPD process negative self-relevant information differently than healthy females. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
Objective: Presently, little is know about what factors predict adolescent psychiatric rehospitalization. Thus, the present study tested whether a battery of demographic and clinical characteristics predicted readmission within 6 months of discharge. Method: Participants were 165 adolescents (112 female) aged 13-19 (M = 15.61, SD = 1.48) admitted to an acute residential treatment program between November 25, 2013 and November 18, 2014. Patients met diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR) for current Major Depressive Disorder and/or Dysthymia. At admission, participants completed a battery of clinical interviews and questionnaires assessing demographics, early life stress, comorbid diagnoses, psychiatric symptoms, suicidality, self-injury and risky behavior engagement. At discharge, psychiatric symptoms were reassessed. Readmission to the same residential service was monitored over a 6-month period following discharge. Results: Overall, 12.1% of adolescents were rehospitalized. We conducted a series of cox regression survival analyses to test demographic and clinical predictors of patients’ time to readmission. More frequent self-injurious behaviors in the month prior to hospitalization was significantly associated with a more rapid time to rehospitalization, b = .05, SE = .02, Wald(1) = 4.35, p = .037, OR = 1.05, CI95 = 1.003 - 1.10. Conclusions: It is critical to more effectively manage self-injury during the treatment of depressed adolescents, as this is the strongest predictor of later rehospitalization.
- Jun 2015
This study represents the first replication of the BDNF Val66Met ⁎ 5-HTTLPR ⁎ childhood maltreatment effect on self-reported depression symptoms using a rigorous maltreatment interview. Participants included a community sample of 339 adolescents/young adults (age 12-33; 265 female). In the context of childhood neglect, among BDNF Met-carriers, s-allele carriers of 5-HTTLPR reported significantly higher depression than l/l homozygotes, whereas a differential relation of 5-HTTLPR genotype to depression was not seen among BDNF Val/Val homozygotes. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Emerging evidence suggests that the tendency to generate stressful life events may be, at least in part, genetically determined. However, the role of the early environment in shaping responses to later stressors is crucial to fully specifying biogenetic models of stress generation. The current study examined the moderating role of childhood emotional, physical, and sexual maltreatment on the relation of the serotonin-transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene to proximal independent, dependent, and dependent-interpersonal life events. This question was tested in a cross-sectional community sample of 297 adolescents and young adults. Childhood maltreatment history and proximal life events were assessed with state-of-the-art interviews that provide independent and standardized ratings of the environmental context. Consistent with the stress generation hypothesis, individuals with the risk s-allele of the serotonin transporter gene reported significantly higher rates of dependent and dependent-interpersonal life events than those homozygous for the l-allele, but only in the context of a history of maternal emotional maltreatment or sexual maltreatment. Neither serotonin transporter gene polymorphisms or childhood maltreatment, or their interaction, were associated with reports of independent life events. The current results demonstrate the importance of considering specificity in the early environmental context when examining the relation of genetic factors to the generation of proximal stress. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
- Feb 2015
Background Although theorists have posited that adolescent depression is characterized by emotion-processing biases (greater propensity to identify sad than happy facial expressions), findings have been mixed. Additionally, the neural correlates associated with putative emotion-processing biases remain largely unknown. Our aim was to identify emotion-processing biases in depressed adolescents and examine neural abnormalities related to these biases using high-density resting EEG and source localization.Methods Healthy (n = 36) and depressed (n = 23) female adolescents, aged 13–18 years, completed a facial recognition task in which they identified happy, sad, fear, and angry expressions across intensities from 10% (low) to 100% (high). Additionally, 128-channel resting (i.e., task-free) EEG was recorded and analyzed using a distributed source localization technique (low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA)). Given research implicating the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in depression and emotion processing, analyses focused on this region.ResultsRelative to healthy youth, depressed adolescents were more accurate for sad and less accurate for happy, particularly low-intensity happy faces. No differences emerged for fearful or angry facial expressions. Further, LORETA analyses revealed greater theta and alpha current density (i.e., reduced brain activity) in depressed versus healthy adolescents, particularly in the left DLPFC (BA9/BA46). Theta and alpha current density were positively correlated, and greater current density predicted reduced accuracy for happy faces.Conclusion Depressed female adolescents were characterized by emotion-processing biases in favor of sad emotions and reduced recognition of happiness, especially when cues of happiness were subtle. Blunted recognition of happy was associated with left DLPFC resting hypoactivity.
Interpersonal rejection is associated with a number of marked negative psychological sequelae, including the development of depression. Interpersonal theories (e.g., Coyne, 1976) propose that excessive reassurance-seeking (erS) may be particularly linked to rejection, but this hypothesis has yet to be tested using an objective, behavioral indicator of interpersonal rejection. Using a sample of 118 women and their romantic partners, we examined whether women's baseline erS was associated with partner-initiated break-ups over a 1-year follow-up period. Secondarily, we explored whether this effect was moderated by the reassurance-seeker's initial depressive symptoms. results revealed that erS was associated with a more rapid time to partner rejection, but not to general relationship dissolutions. further, the effect of erS was not moderated by women's dysphoria at baseline. These results suggest that erS is interpersonally toxic in and of itself, and may thus be an important behavioral marker of risk for depression and other psychiatric problems.
- Jan 2014
One of the strongest predictors of depression recurrence in those who respond to treatment is the presence of residual depressive symptoms. Our goal was to examine stressful life event exposure as a mechanism of recurrence in previously depressed patients with residual depression symptoms. That is, we predicted that higher levels of residual symptoms will significantly predict exposure to acute life events that will then heighten prospective recurrence risk. Participants included 68 adult outpatients with major depression (42 women; age 18-60) who completed a 12-month naturalistic follow-up after achieving remission in a 20-week randomized, open label trial of interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or antidepressant medication. Depression recurrence was defined as the reemergence of an episode of major depression as determined by structured interview. Acute life events and chronic stressors were assessed at the end of follow-up using a contextual interview. Posttreatment depression scores significantly prospectively predicted an increased risk for recurrence, and acute life events in the follow-up period. Cox regression survival analyses modeling life events as time-dependent covariates showed that life event exposure mediated the relation of residual symptoms to recurrence even controlling for chronic stress. Our findings implicate residual symptoms in heightening depression recurrence risk through exposure to stressful life events. Depression recurrence adds significantly to the burden of the disorder. Therefore, rigorous follow-up of patients targeting the stressful context has the potential to prevent a lifelong pattern of illness.
Response styles theory promotes rumination as a central cognitive construct driving negative mood and depression, and past research suggests that at least part of the mechanism driving rumination's depressogenic effect is through inhibiting the individual's ability to shift attentional focus away from negative environmental stimuli. In the current study, we hypothesized that high trait rumination would be associated with impaired recovery of the body's biological response to psychological stress. In a community sample of depressed (n = 31) and non-depressed (n = 33) adolescents we assessed rumination and the more adaptive trait of distraction and problem-solving with the Children's Response Styles Questionnaire (CRSQ; Abela 2000), and diagnostic status was confirmed using the Child and Adolescent Schedule of Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS; Kaufman et al. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 36:980-988, 1997). Participants completed the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST; Kirschbaum et al. Neuropsychobiology 28:76-81, 1993), and the focus of our analyses was the change in salivary cortisol concentration between peak cortisol output (25 min post-stressor) and a sample taken during the "Recovery" period 65 minutes post-stressor. Consistent with the predictions of response style theory, among the depressed adolescents only, high trait rumination was associated with delayed post-stressor cortisol recovery, whereas high trait distraction and problem-solving was associated with more rapid recovery. In contrast, response styles were not associated with cortisol recovery in the non-depressed group. These findings implicate impaired post-stress cortisol recovery as a potential mechanism underlying the pathological effect of rumination on the development and maintenance of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Antidepressant medications, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) are equally efficacious in the acute treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Nevertheless, remission rates remain unacceptably low. Examining the differential time course of remission of specific symptom clusters across treatments may provide a basis for assigning patients to treatments that have the highest chance of being effective. This study re-analyzed data from the NIMH Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Project (TDCRP), which included 250 adult outpatients with MDD randomized to 16 weeks of CBT, IPT, imipramine+clinical management (IMI-CM), or pill placebo (PLA-CM). We derived four symptom factors from the 23-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and three symptom factors from the Beck Depression Inventory. Within-subject hierarchical regression models were specified to examine the linear and quadratic patterns of symptom remission over five assessment points. IMI-CM produced a more rapid rate of remission than CBT or IPT for both the somatic/vegetative and cognitive-affective symptoms of MDD. There were no statistically significant differences in the rates of improvement of any of the symptom factors between the IMI-CM and PLA-CM groups. Some core symptoms of depression were excluded due to low factor loadings. Past research has argued that the CBT arm in the TDCRP may have been weak. We failed to find evidence that treatments act preferentially on specific symptom clusters. Therefore, the symptoms of MDD may be inter-dependent when it comes to their courses of remission in treatment.
Social support in the workplace has been has been demonstrated to serve as a contributor to a worker's ability to manage work demands and to manage stress. Research in the area of disability management indicates that interpersonal factors play an important role in the success of return-to-work interventions. The role of workplace support has received limited attention in rehabilitation, despite the salience of support to the disability management process. Prior to this study, there existed no validated quantitative measure of social support for workers who re-enter the workplace following injury or disability. A support measure prototype, the Support for Workers with Disability Scale, was tested with 152 workers in accommodated work situations. Four validation tools were used to assess criterion validity. Factor analysis was used to validate the content structure and reduce the total number of response items. Additional analysis was conducted to determine the ability of the measure to discriminate between groups, and to provide insight into how social support operates in workplaces. Based on analysis, a reduced measure consisting of 41 items and measuring supervisor, co-worker, and non-work supports was created. Secondary analysis disclosed information concerning the nature of supports in the workplace. Higher levels of support were identified for workers with fewer work role limitations and for those with one versus multiple injury claims. This tool provides a validated outcome measure for research examining the social aspects of workplace disability. It can also serve as a quality management tool for human resource professionals engaged in continuous improvement of disability management programs.
The current study examined whether the personality traits of self-criticism or dependency moderated the effect of stressful life events on treatment response. Depressed outpatients (N = 113) were randomized to 16 weeks of cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, or antidepressant medication (ADM). Stressful life events were assessed with the Bedford College Life Events and Difficulties Schedule. Severe events reported during or immediately prior to treatment predicted poor response in the ADM condition but not in the psychotherapy conditions. In contrast, nonsevere life events experienced prior to onset predicted superior response to treatment. Further, self-criticism moderated the relation of severe life events to outcome across conditions, such that in the presence of severe stress those high in self-criticism were less likely to respond to treatment than were those low in self-criticism.
The purpose of the present study was to uncover patterns in the generation of life events from symptom profiles and specific depression symptoms in an effort to obtain a fine-grained understanding of the stress-generation phenomenon. A community sample of 161 adolescents completed the Beck Depression Inventory-II (A. T. Beck, 1996) at Time 1, and then 88 returned 1 year later for an assessment of life events using a rigorous contextual interview and rating system. Consistent with hypotheses, and controlling for baseline stress, cognitive-affective symptoms of depression prospectively predicted higher levels of dependent interpersonal life events. In contrast, somatic symptoms prospectively predicted higher levels of independent life events. Further examination of the types of events generated by specific symptoms suggests that different mechanisms may drive specific patterns of symptom-event generation and suggests that broadening the definition of independence may be necessary to capture the full context of event generation.