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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2000 Aug;28(4):383-94.

Specific life events and chronic experiences differentially associated with depression and anxiety in young twins.

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  • 1Behavioural Sciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, University of London, UK. t.eley@iop.kcl.ac.uk


Behavioral genetic analyses indicate that environmental influences associated with depression and anxiety are specific to each symptom type; however, this has not been tested specifically in children. Sixty-one (61) child twin pairs in which at least one twin had a very high anxiety or depression score, and 29 nonanxious, nondepressed pairs were interviewed about life events and chronic stressors in the previous 12 months. Loss events, schoolwork stressors, family relationship problems, and friendship problems were all significantly associated with depression but not anxiety. Threat events were significantly associated with anxiety but not depression. Loss events and schoolwork stressors appeared to act as shared environment influences in that they made twin pairs resemble one another. Threat events, friendship problems, and family relationship problems were individual specific and accounted for differences within the pairs. These results clarify the associations between life events and depressive and anxious symptoms in children and adolescents and reveal specific associations previously unidentified in this age range.

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