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Early-life adversity and risk for depression and anxiety: The role of interpersonal support

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 March 2022

Allison V. Metts
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Julia S. Yarrington
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Richard Zinbarg
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 618 Library Place, Evanston, IL, USA
Constance Hammen
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Susan Mineka
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
Craig Enders
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Michelle G. Craske*
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Corresponding author: Michelle G. Craske, email:


Early-life adversity is a major risk factor for psychopathology, but not all who experience adversity develop psychopathology. The current study evaluated whether the links between child and adolescent adversity and depression and anxiety were described by general benefits and/or buffering effects of interpersonal support. Data from 456 adolescents oversampled on neuroticism over a 5-year period were examined in a series of discrete-time survival analyses to predict subsequent disorder onsets. Models examined linear, quadratic, and interactive effects of interpersonal support over time, as measured by chronic interpersonal stress interview ratings. Results did not support buffering effects of interpersonal support against either child or adolescent adversity in predicting depression or anxiety. However, there was support for the general benefits model of interpersonal support as evidenced by follow-up analyses of significant quadratic effects of interpersonal support, demonstrating that higher interpersonal support led to decreased likelihood of depression and anxiety onsets. Secondary analyses demonstrated that effects of interpersonal support remained after accounting for baseline depression and anxiety diagnoses. Further, quadratic effects were driven by social domains as opposed to familial domains when considering child adversity. Implications for interventions and randomized controlled prevention trials regarding interpersonal relationships are discussed.

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© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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