Longitudinal changes in stress-related growth : relations with stress severity and depressive symptoms Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9306t1426

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  • Studies on the positive effects of stress, called stress-related growth (SRG), are increasing, and there are a variety of contradictory theoretical models and findings in the literature. This dissertation compared several of these models in two studies, using two waves of data from the Davis Longitudinal Study, a study of college alumni, roughly split between men and women ranging in age from 30 – 50 (cross-sectional N = 1140; longitudinal N = 509). The first study examined whether the effects of SRG on subsequent stressful episodes were positive (resource accumulation), negative (resource depletion), or were mediated by how individuals coped with the problem (contingent). Results showed that stress severity was weakly but positively related to SRG within time, but no direct cross-lagged effects emerged across time. However, when coping strategies were entered into the model, the within-time effects between stress severity and SRG were fully mediated by both positive and negative coping strategies, whereas the cross-lagged effects were partially mediated by positive coping strategies itself but not negative coping strategies. The second manuscript investigated whether SRG was a protective factor against future depressive symptoms. As the literature is inconsistent, we hypothesized that stress severity would have a moderating effect on the relationship between SRG and depressive symptoms. Cross-sectional results indicated the effect of SRG on depressive symptoms were moderated by the severity of the stressor – it was only in the high stress group that SRG was inversely related to depressive symptoms for the within-time analyses with both the cross-sectional and longitudinal samples. However, the longitudinal analyses showed a different pattern of results. In the cross-lagged model, there was no effect of SRG on subsequent depressive symptoms, although there was a weak effect of depressive symptoms at Time 1 being positively related to SRG at Time 2. Taken together, these results present a highly complex relationship between stress, coping, SRG, and depressive symptoms. The effect of SRG on future outcomes of subsequent stressful episodes is mediated by the type of coping strategies used and dependent upon the degree of stressfulness of the problems faced.
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