Adolescent depression is a significant public health problem associated with concurrent and later impairment in multiple domains, including interpersonal difficulties, academic and occupational problems, substance use, and suicidal behavior, as well as increased risk of depressive disorders and psychiatric comorbidity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999). To date, however, there have been few prospective longitudinal examinations of the course of depressive symptoms in adolescence, limiting our understanding of the etiology and course of depressive problems in youth and restricting the knowledge base available to inform the development of preventive interventions targeting adolescent depression. Moreover, the available research on adolescent depression has been conducted almost exclusively with middle class and Caucasian samples to the relative neglect of ethnically diverse samples. Additionally, there has been relatively little attention to the role of contexts beyond the family in the emergence and maintenance of depressive symptoms. Therefore, the central aim of this project is to examine the longitudinal course of depressive symptoms in a community epidemiologically-defined sample of urban African American adolescents, and the role of the neighborhood context in the etiology of depressive symptoms in these adolescents. The project is designed to achieve the following specific aims: 1) to examine the longitudinal course of depressive symptoms in African American adolescents, including examination of different patterns of depression symptom development and co-occurring behaviors; 2) to identify aspects of the neighborhood environment associated with the development of depressive symptoms using multiple indicators of the neighborhood context, including neighborhood social and economic characteristics, crime, and resources; and 3) to examine the mediating or indirect effects of individual- and family-level factors hypothesized to be intervening processes in the association between neighborhood characteristics and adolescent depressive symptoms, as well as factors (e.g., gender, socioeconomic status) that may moderate these associations. A significant feature of this study is the examination of developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms as they relate to aspects of the neighborhood context, which has been absent in etiological models of depression. In addition, the prospective longitudinal design offers several advantages. First, the longitudinal design enables us to use advanced statistical methods (e.g., latent growth curve modeling) to examine the onset and rate of change in depressive symptoms during adolescence, including person-centered methods to examine patterns of depressive symptom development and variation in developmental outcomes for youth residing in similar contexts. Second, repeated measurement of risk factors will allow us to compare the effect of acute versus chronic neighborhood-level risk exposure on depression symptom development. The longitudinal design also will permit inferences about when neighborhood effects may have the greatest influence. Finally, novel methods for examining the neighborhood environment will be utilized to facilitate understanding the significance of the neighborhood context for depressive symptoms. This research will elucidate the role of the neighborhood context in the development of depressive symptoms and mediating processes linking neighborhood context with depressive symptomatology, providing information about the etiology of depressive symptoms in urban and African American adolescents, necessary information for the development of contextually relevant and effective preventive interventions for urban African American youth. ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
Program Officer
Avenevoli, Shelli A
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George Washington University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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English, Devin; Lambert, Sharon F; Ialongo, Nicholas S (2016) Adding to the Education Debt: Depressive Symptoms Mediate the Association between Racial Discrimination and Academic Performance in African Americans. J Sch Psychol 57:29-40
Smith-Bynum, Mia A; Lambert, Sharon F; English, Devin et al. (2014) Associations between trajectories of perceived racial discrimination and psychological symptoms among African American adolescents. Dev Psychopathol 26:1049-65
Lambert, Sharon F; Robinson, W LaVome; Ialongo, Nicholas S (2014) The role of socially prescribed perfectionism in the link between perceived racial discrimination and African American adolescents' depressive symptoms. J Abnorm Child Psychol 42:577-87
English, Devin; Lambert, Sharon F; Ialongo, Nicholas S (2014) Longitudinal associations between experienced racial discrimination and depressive symptoms in African American adolescents. Dev Psychol 50:1190-6
Busby, Danielle R; Lambert, Sharon F; Ialongo, Nicholas S (2013) Psychological symptoms linking exposure to community violence and academic functioning in African American adolescents. J Youth Adolesc 42:250-62
Lambert, Sharon F; Boyd, Rhonda C; Cammack, Nicole L et al. (2012) Relationship proximity to victims of witnessed community violence: associations with adolescent internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Am J Orthopsychiatry 82:1-9
Sanchez, Yadira M; Lambert, Sharon F; Ialongo, Nicholas S (2012) Life events and depressive symptoms in African American adolescents: do ecological domains and timing of life events matter? J Youth Adolesc 41:438-48
Cammack, Nicole L; Lambert, Sharon F; Ialongo, Nicholas S (2011) DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN COMMUNITY VIOLENCE EXPOSURE AND PERCEIVED NEIGHBORHOOD VIOLENCE. J Community Psychol 39:106-120
Lambert, Sharon F; Bradshaw, Catherine P; Cammack, Nicole L et al. (2011) Examining the developmental process of risk for exposure to community violence among urban youth. J Prev Interv Community 39:98-113
Sanchez, Yadira M; Lambert, Sharon F; Ialongo, Nicholas S (2011) Adverse life events and depressive symptoms in african american youth: the role of control-related beliefs. Depress Res Treat 2011:871843

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