Transitions in Friendship Attachment during Adolescence are Associated with Developmental Trajectories of Depression Through Adulthood

Stephanie H. Cook, Justin E. Heinze, Alison L. Miller, Marc A. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Forming secure friendship attachments during adolescence are important for mental health; few, however, have specifically examined the ways in which the transitions in attachment during adolescence may influence future mental health outcomes among African Americans. Methods The present study examines how transitions in attachment in adolescence predicted changes in depression symptoms from late adolescents through adulthood in an African-American sample. We used growth curve modeling to examine the association between transitions in friendship attachment and changes in depression symptoms in adulthood. Results At age 16 years, 346 (64.0%) adolescents reported secure attachment with 195 (36.0%) reporting either avoidant or resistant attachment. At age 17 years, 340 (62.9%) reported secure attachment and 201 (37.2%) reported avoidant or resistant attachment. The largest percentage of participants (46.2%) reported stable-secure attachment across the two time points. Results of the growth model indicated that adolescents who reported a stable-secure attachment style had lower levels of depression symptoms during adulthood than those individuals who transitioned from secure-to-insecure, from insecure-to-secure, or were in the stable-insecure group. Interestingly enough, individuals in both the attachment transition groups had a faster declining rate of depression symptoms over time compared to the two stability groups. Conclusions Data support existing research showing an association between transitions in attachment during adolescence and depression through adulthood. Furthermore, these study findings suggest there may be protective features associated with transitioning between attachment styles during adolescence on later depression, compared to African Americans who remain stable in their attachment style.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • Friendship attachment
  • Longitudinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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