This study's objective was to identify trajectories of depressive symptoms in adolescence and emerging adulthood, using a school-based sample of adolescents assessed over a 5-year period, and it examined whether bully and cyber-bully victimization and perpetration significantly predicted depressive symptom trajectories.
Four depressive-symptom trajectories were identified, including those with a mild trajectory of depressive symptoms, an increasing trajectory of depressive symptoms, an elevated trajectory of depressive symptoms, and a decreasing trajectory of depressive symptoms. Results indicate that bullying victimization and cyber-bullying victimization differentially predicted depressive-symptoms trajectories across adolescence; however, bullying and cyber-bullying perpetration did not. Study data were obtained from a sample of 1,042 high-school students. The sample had a mean age of 15.09 years (SD = .79), was 56.0-percent female, and was racially diverse (31.4 percent, Hispanic; 29.4 percent, White; and 27.9 percent, African-American). Data were examined using growth mixture modeling. Methodological limitations included reliance on self-reports of bullying perpetration and a limited consideration of external factors that may impact the course of depression. The authors conclude that these findings may inform school personnel in identifying students' likely trajectory of depressive symptoms and determining where depression prevention and treatment services may be needed. (Publisher abstract modified)