Adversity in childhood and young adulthood predicts young adult depression


Stern, Kaija R. & Thayer, Zaneta M. (2019). Adversity in childhood and young adulthood predicts young adult depression. International Journal of Public Health.


Objectives Adversity experience, in both childhood and adulthood, has been associated with the development of depression. However, it is currently unclear how variation in timing and duration of adversity across childhood and young adulthood affects the extent of depression symptomology. Methods Data were analyzed from 2610 individuals from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health in the USA. Adversity in childhood and adulthood was evaluated using instruments similar to the adverse childhood experiences questionnaire, and associations were assessed by Poisson regression. Results Any adversity experience was associated with significantly elevated depression symptoms in young adulthood. Individuals who experienced adversity during both childhood and adulthood had significantly higher depression symptoms than those experiencing adversity during only childhood or adulthood, suggesting a potential dose–response relationship between duration of adversity experience and depression symptomology. Conclusions These results suggest that any adversity experience increases depression symptoms in young adulthood and that cumulative adversity is particularly detrimental. While long-term interventions to reduce adversity exposure would be most efficacious, interventions to reduce adversity at any period would still be beneficial.



Adverse childhood experiences

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

International Journal of Public Health


Stern, Kaija R.
Thayer, Zaneta M.

Year Published



June 28, 2019





Reference ID