HOPELESSNESS DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SYMPTOM COMPONENT OF THE HOPELESSNESS THEORY
 
Abela, J. and Gagnon, H., McGill University, Canada
 
The goal of the current study was to test the symptom component of the hopelessness theory of depression in a sample of thirty-nine children between the ages of seven and thirteen who were exhibiting clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms. Children were categorized into hopelessness depression and non-hopelessness depression subgroups on the basis of whether or not they met criteria of hopelessness depression as defined by (1) possessing a depressogenic attributional style and (2) experiencing a negative event prior to the onset of their depressive symptoms. Children in the hopelessness depression subgroup exhibited higher levels of hopelessness as well as higher levels of seven out of twelve (58.3%) symptoms of hopelessness depression but only one of the fourteen (7.1%) symptoms of non-hopelessness depression. In addition, although children in both groups were equally likely to receive a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, minor depressive disorder, dysthmia, and adjustment disorder with depressed mood, children in the hopelessness depression group were more likely than children in the non-hopelessness depression group to receive a diagnosis of hopelessness depression based on criteria set forth by Alloy et al. (2000). Further, hopelessness was significantly associated with eight of the twelve (75%) hopelessness depression symptoms but with only four of the fourteen (28.6%) non- hopelessness depression symptoms. Last, when symptoms were examined in combination, hopelessness depression symptoms exhibited a significantly greater association with hopelessness than did non-hopelessness.