Though there is a considerable amount of research supporting the association between stressful life events and major depression, there is a paucity of research concerning a range of other life stress constructs, non-depressive disorders, the role of stable personality traits, and gender differences. This study addresses these deficits by: (a) focusing on the association between interpersonal and non-interpersonal chronic life stress (CLS) and both depressive and anxiety disorders, (b) examining the roles of neuroticism and low extraversion in these associations, and (c) assessing gender differences. Participants were 603 adolescents from a study examining risk factors for emotional disorders. Depression and social phobia were associated with interpersonal CLS, with neuroticism partially accounting for these associations. Low extraversion partially accounted for the association between social phobia and interpersonal CLS. Depression was also associated with non-interpersonal CLS, but only in females. This study provides preliminary evidence for the importance of personality variables in explaining shared associations between stress and depression. Additionally, the stress-social phobia relationship is highlighted, with no evidence supporting an association between other anxiety disorders and CLS.
Keywords: anxiety, depression, chronic life stress, extraversion, neuroticism, adolescents