The Long Arm of Social Integration: Gender, Adolescent Social Networks, and Adult Depressive Symptom Trajectories.
Peer connections in adolescence shape mental health in ways that differ by gender. However, it is unclear whether this association has an enduring impact on life course mental health. Using growth models with survey data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health Waves I-IV, N = 13,821, 51% white, 49% male), we examine how two dimensions of social integration during adolescence-popularity and sociality-predict depressive symptom trajectories from adolescence to adulthood (ages 12-32) by gender. We find that for both men and women, low sociality predicts higher depressive levels through adolescence into adulthood. For women, higher popularity predicts greater depressive symptoms in adolescence, followed by a steeper decline to lower levels in early adulthood. Overall, this study suggests that social integration among peers in adolescence has long-term consequences for mental health that vary by gender.
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