Are You Still Bringing Me down? Romantic Involvement and Depressive Symptoms from Adolescence into Young Adulthood

Julie Skalamera, University of Texas at Austin

Romantic involvement and mental health are dynamically linked, but this interplay can vary across the life course in ways that speak to social and psychological underpinnings of healthy development. To explore this variation, this study examined how romantic involvement in adolescence and young adulthood was associated with trajectories of depressive symptomatology across the transition between these life course stages. Growth mixture modeling of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health identified trajectories of depressive symptomatology as teens grew into the early 20s (n = 10,003). Although adolescent dating was associated with more depressive symptoms early on, this risk faded over time, and a developmental progression of involvement (adolescent dating into young adult union formation) was associated with the healthiest trajectories. Overall, boys appeared to more consistently benefit from romantic involvement, in its varied forms, across the early life course.

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Presented in Poster Session 7: Health and Mortality of Women, Children and Families