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Psychobiology of Stress and Adolescent Depression (PSY SAD) Study: Protocol overview for an fMRI-based multi-method investigation.

Abstract

Depression is a common, often recurrent disorder that causes substantial disease burden worldwide, and this is especially true for women following the pubertal transition. According to the Social Signal Transduction Theory of Depression, stressors involving social stress and rejection, which frequently precipitate major depressive episodes, induce depressive symptoms in vulnerable individuals in part by altering the activity and connectivity of stress-related neural pathways, and by upregulating components of the immune system involved in inflammation. To test this theory, we recruited adolescent females at high and low risk for depression and assessed their psychological, neural, inflammatory, and genomic responses to a brief (10 minute) social stress task, in addition to trait psychological and microbial factors affecting these responses. We then followed these adolescents longitudinally to investigate how their multi-level stress responses at baseline were related to their biological aging at baseline, and psychosocial and clinical functioning over one year. In this protocol paper, we describe the theoretical motivations for conducting this study as well as the sample, study design, procedures, and measures. Ultimately, our aim is to elucidate how social adversity influences the brain and immune system to cause depression, one of the most common and costly of all disorders.

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