University of Oulu

Kehusmaa, J., Ruotsalainen, H., Männikkö, N., Alakokkare, A.-E., Niemelä, M., Jääskeläinen, E., & Miettunen, J. (2022). The association between the social environment of childhood and adolescence and depression in young adulthood—A prospective cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 305, 37–46.

The association between the social environment of childhood and adolescence and depression in young adulthood : a prospective cohort study

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Author: Kehusmaa, Johanna1,2; Ruotsalainen, Heidi3; Männikkö, Niko3,4;
Organizations: 1Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3School of Health and Social Care, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Oulu, Finland
4Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Department of Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-22


Background: Good social relationships with parents and peers protect children and adolescents from developing mental disorders in adulthood while several negative experiences increase the risk of depression in later life.

Methods: We used population-based cohort data from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort (NFBC) 1986. Participants (n = 6147), their teachers and parents reported factors associated with the social environment of children and adolescents. Diagnoses of depression of cohort members were derived from Finnish nationwide registers. We conducted regression analyses to assess which factors of the social environment of childhood and adolescence were associated with depression in young adulthood.

Results: Bullying victimization in adolescence was the strongest predictor of depression in young adulthood among girls (OR 2.23: 95% CI 1.47–3.39) and boys (OR 2.44: 95% CI 1.49–4.00). Loneliness and bullying behavior in childhood were associated with depression in boys only. Loneliness in adolescence (OR 1.63: 95% CI 1.30–2.04) was associated with depression among both genders. Spending with the family seemed to protect against the negative impact of bullying and loneliness.

Limitations: We used single-item study questions to measure social relationships. These questions do not necessarily describe the phenomena as accurately as the measures validated for them.

Conclusions: Problems in social relationships with peers in childhood and adolescence are associated with depression in young adulthood. Time spent with the family is emphasized in situations in which adolescents have problems in peer-relationships.

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Series: Journal of affective disorders
ISSN: 0165-0327
ISSN-E: 1573-2517
ISSN-L: 0165-0327
Volume: 305
Pages: 37 - 46
DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2022.02.067
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3124 Neurology and psychiatry
Funding: NFBC: EU QLG1-CT-2000-01643 (EUROBLCS) Grant no. E51560, NorFA Grant no. 731, 20056, 30167, USA/NIH 2000 G DF682 Grant no. 50945. JK received partial financial support from Juho Vainio Foundation Grant no. 202100430. JM was funded by the Juho Vainio Foundation and Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (