. "3 The Etiology of Depression." Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
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Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention
traits that predisposes an individual to both stressful life events and depression, and to tendencies to respond to stressors with depression (Kendler et al., 1995; Kendler, Gardner, and Prescott, 2003). Kendler, Gardner, and Prescott (2003), for example, found that neuroticism was a strong predictor of stressful life events, particularly those related to interpersonal relationships. In other analyses, Kendler, Kuhn, and Prescott (2004) found that neuroticism moderated the effects of stress on depression, particularly potentiating its effects at the highest levels of stress exposure.
Neuroticism is highly correlated with trait anxiety (Watson and Clark, 1984), harm avoidance (Zuckerman and Cloninger, 1996), and measures of the behavioral inhibition system. Watson and Clark (1984) suggested that these are interchangeable measures of the same stable and pervasive trait, which they label negative affectivity. It is defined as the disposition to experience aversive emotional states, including nervousness, tension, worry, anger, scorn, revulsion, guilt, rejection, self-dissatisfaction, and sadness—especially in response to perceived stress.
A related construct, ruminative response style, refers to a cognitive and behavioral coping strategy, employed mainly by women, for responding to negative emotions, particularly dysphoria. Nolen-Hoeksema (1991) proposed that, when experiencing emotional distress, women display a response style that emphasizes rumination, self-focus, and overanalysis of the problem and excessive focus on their own emotions. In contrast, men use more distraction and problem resolution. When ruminative responses are employed, they tend to intensify negative, self-focused thinking and to interfere with active problem solving, hence deepening or prolonging the symptoms of depression. A series of studies has demonstrated support for these hypotheses, including gender differences in coping style and the association of ruminative coping with depression (e.g., Nolen-Hoeksema, Morrow, and Fredrickson, 1993; reviewed in Nolen-Hoeksema and Girgus, 1994; Nolen-Hoeksema, 2000).
In view of the multiple biological, environmental, social, and personality risk factors for depression, research on risk for depression will be advanced by integrative, multivariable models that link biological factors with environmental and personal characteristics. To date, however, the field is marked mainly by complex models that have not been empirically evaluated or by empirical tests of fairly limited integrative models. Many of the theoretical models have been focused on a particular subtopic, such as predicting outcomes and their mechanisms in children of depressed parents (e.g., Goodman, 2007; Goodman and Gotlib, 1999) or gender differences in adolescent depression (Alloy and Abramson, 2007; Hankin and Abramson,