Adolescent Peer Networks and Adult Depression Trajectories


Kamis, Christina & Copeland, Molly (2019). Adolescent Peer Networks and Adult Depression Trajectories. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. New York, NY.


Social connections with others can have a profound impact on mental health, particularly in adolescence. However, it is unclear if the relationship between social network integration and depressive symptoms in adolescence has an enduring effect on mental health into adulthood, or if the mental health benefits and strains of peer contexts in adolescence are left behind as individuals move into subsequent stages of the life course. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health (Add Health, N=14,003, 50.95% white, 50.99% female) and growth curve models, we examine how two dimensions of integration in social networks, popularity and expansiveness, predict trajectories of depressive symptoms from adolescence to adulthood. We find that popularity is associated with lower depressive levels, particularly in respondent’s early twenties, but that this benefit then tapers off so that benefits of prior popularity are no longer experienced by adults in their early 30’s. Expansiveness, however, is associated with an enduring benefit to mental health, associated with trajectories showing lower levels of depressive symptoms into adulthood, especially for men. Overall, this study indicates that social integration among peers can have lasting positive benefits to mental health long after individuals leave adolescent social settings and that practitioners and researchers should further consider how connections with peers in adolescence can have an enduring relationship with pathways of adult mental health.

Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association


Kamis, Christina
Copeland, Molly

Year Published


City of Publication

New York, NY

Reference ID