Development and Psychopathology


Co-occurrence of conduct problems and depressive symptoms in early adolescent boys: II. A 2-year follow-up at Grade 8

Deborah M. Capaldia1

a1 Oregon Social Learning Center


The current study examines outcomes at Grade 8 for boys who, at Grade 6, displayed elevated, though not necessarily clinical, levels of conduct problems and depressive symptoms. An at-risk community sample of 203 early adolescent boys in the Oregon Youth Study, a multimethod/multiagent study, was divided into the following groups at Grade 6: (a) co-occurring conduct problems and depressed mood, (b) conduct problems only, (c) depressed mood only, and (d) neither problem. The four groups were compared at Grade 8 on family management and boy's adjustment, using multivariate analyses of variance. The groups were compared also on relationships with parents, delinquency, and suicidal ideation. As hypothesized, conduct problems showed higher stability than depressive symptoms from Grade 6 to Grade 8. The conduct-problem-only boys and boys with co-occurring conduct problems and depressive symptoms continued to show considerable adjustment deficits at Grade 8, whereas boys with only depressive symptoms showed some improvement. The co-occurring group showed elevated levels of suicidal ideation. As hypothesized, conduct problems at Grade 6 were predictive of increases in depressed mood by Grade 8, but depressed mood was not predictive of an increase in the conduct problems measure. Results are consistent with a failure model whereby lack of skill and noxious behavior lead to pervasive failures and vulnerability to depressed mood.