Christopher C. Conway of the Department of Psychology at the University of California in Los Angeles recently led a study that provides evidence that the current stress generation model, which is used to assess the recurrence of specific mental health issues involving depressive states, could benefit from an expansion. In the past, the stress model has been used to analyze specific traits of anxiety problems and externalizing behaviors and how these issues cause stress that can lead to depression. But because people who struggle with depression often have co-existing psychological conditions, broadening the current stress model to include a general spectrum of internalizing and externalizing behaviors might allow researchers and clinicians to more accurately predict factors that are most likely to cause depression.
For his study, Conway assessed 815 teenagers who had been part of a longitudinal study examining the mental health of children born to mothers with a history of depression. When Conway evaluated the teens, he found that nearly half of them had been diagnosed with some form of depression in their lifetime. When he reassessed them at age 20, he discovered that the participants with internalizing behaviors had the most interpersonal stress. Specifically, those with depressive symptoms that included rumination, hopelessness, and need for approval exhibited the highest levels of relationship conflict with family members and others. The participants who showed more externalizing behaviors had more stress that was independent of internal conditions. These participants reported being stressed about things such as academic performance and finances rather than their relationships with others. Conway also discovered that the participants who had a history of panic were less likely to experience stress than the other participants. This suggests that panic, which is characterized by avoidance and sensitivity to anxiety, could provide a mechanism by which depressed individuals protect themselves from the negative effects of stress. Because so many individuals who struggle with depression also have other psychological problems, Conway believes that this study is just the first step in opening the door for the expansion of the stress generation mode. He added, “Further empirical work is needed to evaluate the explanatory power of hierarchical models of stress generation in other samples and to examine the specific effects of clinical syndromes not studied here (e.g., eating disorders, psychotic disorders).”
Conway, C. C., Hammen, C., & Brennan, P. A. (2012). Expanding stress generation theory: test of a transdiagnostic model. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027457
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.