BACKGROUND: Experiencing adversities during upbringing has short-term and long-term effects on mental health. This study aims to explore how social adversities in adolescence predict trajectories of internalized mental health symptoms (IMHS), from adolescence and onward until middle age.
METHODS: Based on 1040 individuals from the Northern Swedish Cohort Study, a community-based cohort with 27 years of follow-up. We applied latent class growth analysis to extract trajectories of IMHS between ages 16 and 43. Multinomial logistic regression was used to study the association of social adversities (residential mobility, residential crowding, parental loss, unemployment of a parent, physical illness of a parent, mental illness or alcohol problems of a parent) in adolescence with IMHS trajectories.
RESULTS: Five trajectory classes were identified: 'very low stable' (26% of the sample), 'low stable' (58%), 'moderate stable' (5%), 'increasing' (8%) and 'high decreasing' (3%). Both in men and women, reporting social adversities at the age of 16 increased the risk of belonging to the classes with less favourable development of IMHS. Reporting adversities was positively associated with the initial level of the IMHS trajectories. Thus it seems that the influence of adversities is more pronounced during the early years of follow-up and is attenuated over time.
CONCLUSION: Experiencing social adversities in adolescence increases the risk of entering unfavourable developmental trajectories of mental health until middle age.
Oxford University Press, 2016. Vol. 26, no 1, 23-29 p.