Developmental age trends of general distress and specific components of mental well and ill health

Michelle St Clair, Ian M. Goodyer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Recent investigations of the structure of psychiatric symptoms and disorders provide empirical support for a trans-diagnostic distress component to mental illness in addition to specific factors potentially differentiating individual diagnoses. The well documented developmental trends of psychopathology symptoms across adolescence may need re-evaluation within the context of general distress and disorder specific components.
Methods: Within the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network, large scale factor analysis was implemented across 116 items measuring mental well-being and specific domains of psychopathology (depression, anxiety, antisocial behaviour, OCD, and psychotic symptoms). The sample was 2228 individuals between the ages of 14 and 24. Developmental age trends of a general distress factor and five specific factors (measuring confidence, antisocial behaviour, worry, OCD/Psychotic symptom, and mood) were evaluated for boys and girls.
Findings: The confidence and OCD/Psychotic specific factor did not show gender differences and declined across the age range. The antisocial specific factor also showed decline across the age range with higher levels for boys, while the worry specific factor showed increasing levels with higher levels for girls. Girls showed increasing followed by decreasing levels in the general distress and mood factors. Boys showed an increase then a levelling off in general distress and a developmental increase in mood throughout the age range.
Discussion: While the general distress factor replicates established developmental trends, the specific factors show unexpected developmental trends indicating potential differences in developmental trends dependent on how we conceptualise mental well and ill health.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2015
EventBPS Developmental Section & Social Section Annual Conference 2015 - The Palace Hotel, Manchester UK, Manchester, UK, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Sept 201511 Sept 2015


ConferenceBPS Developmental Section & Social Section Annual Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
CityManchester, UK


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