Violent Victimization, Stressful Events, and Depression: A Longitudinal Study of Young Adults in the U.S

Celia C. Lo, Department of Sociology, Texas Woman's University, CFO 305, P.O. Box 425887, Denton, TX, 76204, USA.
Heather M. Gerling, Salvation Army, Dallas, TX, USA.
William Ash-Houchen, Division of Social Sciences and History, Delta State University, Cleveland, MS, USA.
Tyrone C. Cheng, Kennesaw State University


We surveyed a sample of young adults in the United States to determine (1) whether/how depression is affected by violent victimization during childhood and/or by recent stressful events, as well as (2) whether any observed links between depression and violent victimization and/or stressful events would be uniform across racial/ethnic groups. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort, we measured respondent depression in 5 interview waves dating 2004-2015. Our final sample for analysis numbered 22,549 person-waves. Our study showed that violent victimization in childhood, and recent stressful events, as well, alike exacerbated depression. Moreover, as we analyzed, in turn, the data for each ethnic subsample, we observed differential patterns in depression's associations with victimization. Childhood violent victimization-and also recently encountered stress-has a significant role in the development of depression in adulthood; this role appears to be moderated by race/ethnicity.