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Thesis

Relations Between Adolescent Peer Relationships and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

24 July 2005

Abstract

There is evidence that a relationship exists between adolescent peer relationships and both depression and anxiety. Autonomy with peers and peer attachment are two important aspects of peer relationships. Overall, the literature on adolescent peer relationships includes support for the hypothesis that multiple aspects of peer relationships are related to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Psychological adjustment, including depression and anxiety, is related to peer conflict in adolescents. The current study provided evidence that adolescent peer relationships are likely predictive for the development of depression and anxiety. Each variable studied in terms of relationships was significantly related to both depression and anxiety. Conflict with peers was the most predictive of depression and anxiety in adolescence. Furthermore, attachment and autonomy were also predictive of depression and anxiety. Although individuals who have strong peer attachment experienced fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who do not, peer attachment does not appear to be a protective factor against peer conflict in prediction of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, gender doesn't appear to impact this relation. Girls did not appear to experience more internalizing symptoms as a result of difficulties in relationships. Overall, 'results' of the study indicated that adolescents who experience difficulties in peer relationships, particularly conflict with peers, are most likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety. These results suggest that mental health can be enhanced through addressing difficulties in peer relationships through intervention programs and increasing support groups.


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