The relationship between attachment and depression in American and Bolivian adolescents

Alejandra Morales, Pace University


High rates of adolescent depression and suicide continue to be of concern to the school community, families and mental health professionals. Variability in findings of the prevalence and etiology of depression has been attributed to differences in its definition and measurement. Studies in the United States and Europe have focused mostly on psychiatric populations with less of an emphasis on identifying depression in non-clinical adolescent populations. The cross cultural research published on adolescent depression has also been scant with particular reference to Central and South America. The research literature indicates that the risk factors in adolescent depression seem to be multidetermined. Studies suggests that adolescents share a number of risk factors: family history of affective disorders, inadequate parenting, interpersonal difficulties within the family and insecure parental attachments. This study examined the relationship between attachment and depression in American and Bolivian adolescents. The sample consisted of 956 male and female high school students, from grades 9–12, obtained from two populations: (1) three private Bolivian high schools, (2) a public suburban high school in the United States. The second sample was taken from a larger longitudinal study. The Parental Bonding Inventory and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale were the measures used to assess relationships among parental care and overprotection and degree of depression in the two populations. Significant correlations were obtained for the care and overprotection dimensions of attachment and depressive symptomatology. Country of origin by parental attachment interactions were found. Interaction effects were significant for country of origin and the care dimension, indicating that the perception of maternal care significantly contributed to the degree of depressive symptomatology in adolescents from the United States and Bolivia. Interaction effects were also significant for country of origin and gender as predictors of depression in both samples. Cultural differences specific to adolescent development in Bolivia are discussed. Psychodynamic theories of development are applied within a cultural context pertinent to attachment and depression.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Morales, Alejandra, "The relationship between attachment and depression in American and Bolivian adolescents" (1999). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9912480.



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