Cognitive Schemas as Longitudinal Predictors of Self-Reported Adolescent Depressive Symptoms and Resilience
Given that depression risk intensifies in adolescence, examining the course of depressive symptoms during the shift from childhood to adolescence is important for expanding knowledge about the etiology of depression. From a cognitive-developmental perspective, this study examined the stability of both positive and negative schemas in adolescence and whether these schemas could prospectively predict depressive symptoms and resilience in youth. One hundred ninety-eight participants (48 percent boys, 52 percent girls) between the ages of 9 and 14 were recruited from 4 elementary schools to complete measures of youth depressive symptoms, resilience, and schema content and organization. Those who consented to be re-contacted for a follow-up study were contacted one to three years later to complete the same measures online. The Time 2 sample consisted of 50 participants (54 percent boys, 46 percent girls). Negative and positive schema content and structure were stable over time. Depressive symptoms at Time 2 were hypothesized to be predicted by strong negative and weak positive schema content, tightly interconnected negative schema organization, and loosely interconnected positive schema organization at Time 1. The opposite patterns of association were hypothesized between schema content and structure and resilience. After controlling for age, sex and depressive symptoms /resilience at Time 1, negative schema content was the only significant predictor of depressive symptoms and resilience at Time 2. Implications for cognitive theories and clinical practice are discussed.