Stressful life events and trajectories of depression symptoms in a U.S. military cohort

Laura Sampson, Howard J. Cabral, Anthony J. Rosellini, Jaimie L. Gradus, Gregory H. Cohen, David S. Fink, Anthony P. King, Israel Liberzon, Sandro Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Depression is a common mental disorder that may comprise distinct, underlying symptom patterns over time. Associations between stressful life events throughout the civilian lifecourse—including during childhood—and adult depression have been documented in many populations, but are less commonly assessed in military samples. We identified different trajectories of depression symptoms across four years in a military cohort using latent class growth analysis, and investigated the relationship between these trajectories and two domains of civilian life experiences: childhood adversity (e.g., being mistreated during childhood) and more proximal stressful experiences (e.g., divorce). A four-group depression model was identified, including a symptom-free group (62%), an increasing symptom group (13%), a decreasing symptom group (16%), and a “chronic” symptom group (9%). Compared to the symptom-free group, soldiers with childhood adversity were more likely to be in the chronic depression, decreasing, and increasing symptom groups. Time-varying adult stressors had the largest effect on depression symptoms for the increasing symptom group compared to other groups, particularly in the last two years of follow-up. This study indicates the importance of considering events from throughout the lifecourse—not only those from deployment—when studying the mental health of servicemembers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11026
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 30 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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