School-aged children's cognitive interdependence as a prospective link between their depressive symptoms and physiological stress reactivity

Jessica L. Borelli, Melissa Pedroza, Gerin E. Gaskin, Patricia A. Smiley, Callison A. Kernick, Aurora Brachman, Matthias R Mehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Associations between children's depressive symptoms and physiological stress reactivity have been identified across many investigations. Similarly, a large body of literature explores the cognitive correlates of depressive symptomatology in childhood. To date, few studies conducted with children have integrated these approaches. In the present study, we examine a well-documented correlate of depression in adults; low cognitive interdependence (as measured via pronoun use, or we-ratio), in a child population. We explore the relation of low cognitive interdependence to children's concurrent depressive symptoms as well as their concurrent and later stress reactivity. At Time 1, we assessed school-aged children's (N = 60) depressive symptoms and children's we-ratio from an interview about their school experiences. Two weeks later (Time 2), children provided salivary cortisol samples before and after a stressor task. At Time 3 (1.5 years later), children provided cortisol samples before and after completing a different stressor task. Children's depressive symptoms were concurrently associated with lower we-ratio, which in turn was prospectively, but not concurrently, associated with higher cortisol reactivity, acting as an indirect effect between depression and later reactivity. These findings suggest that low levels of cognitive interdependence may be one mechanism by which children's depressive symptoms forecast heightened reactivity to stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-355
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Volume37
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Middle childhood
  • Stress reactivity
  • We-ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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