Objectives: Relationships during adolescence are relevant predictors of depressive symptoms. This project studied how adolescent bonds and connectedness predict the likelihood of latent class membership on various depressive symptoms trajectories. Method: From the restricted use National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health dataset (N = 7196), this study examined a nationally representative sample ranging from ages 11–31 (50.5% female, 42.2% non-white), using a latent class growth analysis with an accelerated design. Measures included the CES-D for tracking depressive symptoms longitudinally, “parent-child bond questions” from the Relations with Parents scale, and “school connectedness” questions and “time spent with friends” questions created by Add Health. Results: Findings show two trajectories of depressive symptoms: one characterized (83%) relatively low, stable depressive symptoms over time, and the other (17%), moderate, fluctuating symptoms. Higher parent-child bond and higher school connectedness were related to a greater likelihood of being on the low-level stable trajectory. Time spent with friends was not significantly related to the likelihood of being on either trajectory. Conclusions: Clinical implications include the necessity of targeting adolescent bond relationships that could affect the trajectory of depression over time. Specifically, capitalizing on adolescents’ school connectedness and parent-child bond is essential for both short-term and long-term mood health. Implications for research indicate a need for longitudinal data collection to target the level of connectedness adolescents feel with their friends to examine whether the strength of the relationship influences depressive symptoms trajectories where time spent with friends did not.
- Accelerated longitudinal design
- Depressive symptoms trajectories