Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 311–320 | Cite as

Catastrophizing As a Predictor of Depressive and Anxious Symptoms in Children

  • Valerie A. Noël
  • Sarah E. Francis
  • Kristen Williams-Outerbridge
  • Stephanie L. Fung
Original Article


This study assessed the predictive relationship between catastrophizing and depressive symptoms, when controlling for anxiety, amongst 231 third-, fifth-, and seventh-grade children. Hopelessness theory of depression posits that the diathesis of consistently generating catastrophic inferences to the consequences of a negative event can lead to hopelessness depression. Catastrophizing is often observed in anxiety, yet no prior study has controlled for anxiety when studying this cognitive risk factor for depression in the context of hopelessness theory. Results replicated previous findings amongst youth aged 7–13, such that a significant relationship was observed between depressive symptoms and catastrophizing; this relationship remained significant in the full sample after controlling for anxiety. However, the relationship between catastrophizing and depression differed by grade such that, after controlling for anxiety, catastrophizing was predictive of depressive symptoms amongst third-grade but not fifth- or seventh-grade children. The inclusion of the anxiety construct in hopelessness theory may enhance current conceptualizations of the changing nature of depression across development.


Hopelessness theory Depression Catastrophizing Anxiety Children 


  1. Abela, J. R. Z. (2001). The hopelessness theory of depression: A test of the diathesis-stress and causal mediation components in third- and seventh- grade children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29, 241–254. doi: 10.1023/A:1010333815728.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abela, J. R. Z., & Payne, A. V. L. (2003). A test of the integration of the hopelessness and self-esteem theories of depression in schoolchildren. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 27, 519–535. doi: 10.1023/A:1026303020478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abela, J. R. Z., & Sarin, S. (2002). Cognitive vulnerability to hopelessness depression: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 26, 811–829. doi: 10.1023/A:1021245618183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Abela, J. R. Z., Vanderbilt, E., & Rochon, A. (2004). A test of the integration of the response styles and social support theories of depression in third and seventh grade children. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23, 653–674. doi: 10.1521/jscp.23.5.653.50752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Abramson, L. Y., Metalsky, G. I., & Alloy, L. B. (1989). Hopelessness depression: A theory-based subtype of depression. Psychological Review, 96, 358–372. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.96.2.358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Adams, P., Abela, J. R. Z., & Hankin, B. L. (2007). Factorial categorization of depression-related constructs in early adolescents. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 21, 123–139. doi: 10.1891/088983907780851540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  8. Axelson, D. A., & Birmaher, B. (2001). Relation between anxiety and depressive disorders in childhood and adolescence. Depression and Anxiety, 14, 67–78. doi: 10.1002/da.1048.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brozina, K., & Abela, J. R. Z. (2006). Behavioural inhibition, anxious symptoms, and depressive symptoms: A short-term prospective examination of a diathesis-stress model. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1337–1346. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2005.09.010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chorpita, B. F., Albano, A. M., & Barlow, D. H. (1998). The structure of negative emotions in a clinical sample of children and adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 74–85. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.107.1.74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chorpita, B. F., Moffitt, C. E., & Gray, J. (2005). Psychometric properties of the revised child anxiety and depression scale in a clinical sample. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 309–322. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2004.02.004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chorpita, B. F., Yim, L., Moffitt, C., Umemoto, L. A., & Francis, S. E. (2000). Assessment of symptoms of DSM-IV anxiety and depression in children: a revised child anxiety and depression scale. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 835–855. doi: 10.1016/S0005-7967(99)00130-8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analyses for the social sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Cole, D. A., & Turner, J. E. (1993). Models of cognitive mediation and moderation in child depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 271–281. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.102.2.271.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Epkins, C. C. (1996). Cognitive specificity and affective confounding in social anxiety and dysphoria in children. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 18, 83–101. doi: 10.1007/BF02229104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Faulstich, M. E. (1986). Assessment of depression in childhood and adolescence: An evaluation of the center for epidemiological studies depression scale for children (CES-DC). American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 1024–1027.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Garnefski, N., Legerstee, J., Kraaij, V., Van Den Kommer, T., & Teerds, J. (2002). Cognitive coping strategies and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A comparison between adolescents and adults. Journal of Adolescence, 25, 603–611. doi: 10.1006/jado.2002.0507.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ghahramanlou-Holloway, M., Wenzel, A., Lou, K., & Beck, A. T. (2007). Differentiating cognitive content between depressed and anxious outpatients. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 36, 170–178. doi: 10.1080/16506070701374256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hankin, B. L., & Abramson, L. Y. (2002). Measuring cognitive vulnerability to depression in adolescence: Reliability, validity and gender differences. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31, 491–504.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Kazdin, A. E., French, N. H., Unis, A. S., Esveldt-Dawson, K., & Sherick, R. B. (1983). Hopelessness scale for children. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.Google Scholar
  21. Kovacs, M. (1980). Rating scales to assess depression in preschool children. Acta Paedopsychiatry, 46, 303–315.Google Scholar
  22. Legerstee, J. S., Garnefski, N., Jellesma, F. C., Verhulst, F. C., & Utens, E. M. (2010). Cognitive coping in childhood anxiety disorders. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 19, 143–150. doi: 10.1007/s00787-009-0051-6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Leitenberg, H., Yost, L. W., & Carroll-Wilson, M. (1986). Negative cognitive errors in children: Questionnaire development, normative data, and comparisons between children with and without self-reported symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, and evaluation anxiety. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 528–536. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.54.4.528.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Muris, P., Roelofs, J., Meesters, C., & Boomsma, P. (2004). Rumination and worry in non-clinical adolescents. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 28, 539–554. doi: 10.1023/B:COTR.0000045563.66060.3e.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1998). The other end of the continuum: The costs of rumination. Psychological Inquiry, 9, 216–219. doi: 10.1207/s15327965pli0903_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2001). Ruminative coping and adjustment to bereavement. In M. Stroebe, R. Hansson, W. Stroebe, & H. Schut (Eds.), Handbook of bereavement research: Consequences, coping, and care (pp. 545–562). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi: 10.1037/10436-023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Seligman, L. D., & Ollendick, T. H. (1998). Comorbidity of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents: An integrative review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 1, 125–144. doi: 10.1023/A:1021887712873.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stark, K. D., & Laurent, J. (2001). Joint factor analysis of the Children’s Depression Inventory and the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 552–567. doi: 10.1207/S15374424JCCP3004_11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Turner, J. E., & Cole, D. A. (1994). Developmental differences in cognitive diatheses for child depression. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 22, 15–32. doi: 10.1007/BF02169254.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Verduin, T. L., & Kendall, P. C. (2003). Differential occurrence of comorbidity within childhood anxiety disorders. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32, 290–295. doi: 10.1207/S15374424JCCP3202_15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Watts, S. E., & Weems, C. F. (2006). Associations among selective attention, memory bias, cognitive errors and symptoms of anxiety in youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, 841–852. doi: 10.1007/s10802-006-9066-3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Weems, C. F., Berman, S. L., Silverman, W. K., & Saavedra, L. M. (2001). Cognitive errors in youth with anxiety disorders: The linkages between negative cognitive errors and anxious symptoms. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 25, 559–575. doi: 10.1023/A:1005505531527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Weissman, M. M., Orvaschel, H., & Padian, N. (1980). Children’s symptom of social functioning self-report scales: Comparison of mother’s and children’s reports. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 168, 736–740. doi: 10.1097/00005053-198012000-00005.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Williams, E. J. (1949). Experimental designs balanced for the estimation of residual effects of treatments. Australian Journal of Scientific Research, 2, 149–168.Google Scholar
  35. Zahn-Waxler, C., Klimes-Duggan, B., & Slattery, M. J. (2000). Internalizing problems of childhood and adolescence: Prospects, pitfalls, and progress in understanding the development of anxiety and depression. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 443–446. doi: 10.1017/S0954579400003102.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerie A. Noël
    • 1
  • Sarah E. Francis
    • 1
  • Kristen Williams-Outerbridge
    • 2
  • Stephanie L. Fung
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

Personalised recommendations