Difficult Friends and Adolescent Depression

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Friends can be a source of support and caring, but they can also be a source of stress. Specifically, scholars have looked at a possible contagion effect of depression, where one’s friend’s depression is related to their own. This paper shifts the perspective from looking at friends’ depression to friends’ stressful social experiences. An aspect of stress process theory, stress proliferation, theorizeds that when those close to us have stressful experiences, the stress can pass to us. Since Adolescence is a point on the life course where friends play an important role in youths’ lives, it is logical to assume that a friends’ stressful experience can impact each other. This paper takes a social network perspective on this theory, using data from The National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent to Adult Health and OLS regression I test the question, is having friends with social difficulty associated with a higher level of depressive symptoms?

Liann Tucker
PhD Candidate