Depressive Symptoms Over the Course of Adolescence among Latinx Youth from Small Towns in the United States: Comparing Children of Immigrants and Non-Immigrants

Maria Oliva | 2021

Advisor: Isaac Rhew

Research Area(s): Psychiatric Epidemiology, Social Determinants of Health

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Purpose: To compare depressive symptoms over the course of adolescence among Latinx Children of Immigrants (COI), Latinx Children of Non-Immigrants (CONI), and non-Latinx White CONI from small towns in the United States and to examine whether differences vary by developmental age and by sex.
Methods: We used 6 years of longitudinal data from 1,520 adolescents that were participating in the Community Youth Development Study (CYDS). Depressive symptoms were self-reported through the Communities That Care Brief Depression Scale (CTC-BDS) from grade 6 to 12. Our three study groups were defined by Latinx ethnicity, race, and immigrant generational status based on the child’s and their parents’ country of birth. We used a negative binomial count regression form of the generalized linear mixed model to evaluate differences in depressive symptoms among the three ethnic/racial immigrant generation groups and also examine group-x-time interactions to assess whether differences varied across developmental age. Additional models were run stratified by sex.
Results: We did not find a statistically significant difference in depressive symptoms when comparing adolescent Latinx CONI and non-Latinx White CONI to Latinx COI. Comparisons between Latinx CONI and White CONI suggested Latinx CONI had a significantly higher depressive symptom score and a steeper decline in symptoms over the course of adolescence than White CONI. In sex stratified analyses, among males, Latinx CONI had a higher symptom score than Latinx COI and White CONI; however, there were no notable differences among groups in female youth.
Conclusion: Our study suggests depressive symptoms can vary by racial/ethnic immigrant generational status. Findings from this study provide some insight into the importance of considering immigrant generational status when assessing U.S. Latinx youth’s mental health across adolescence, particularly Latinx CONI