In Their Own Words: Rural Adolescent Stressors and Relationship to Depressive Symptoms

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This study evaluated qualitative reports of stressful life events from young rural adolescents and examined the relationship between stressor themes and depressive symptoms. A phenomenological approach guided content analysis of qualitative data. Number of themes within each response was tabulated, and association with depressive symptoms was then examined. Stressors were categorized into four thematic domains: family, peers, academics, and intrapersonal. Individual themes within each domain varied, but the themes of conflict and loss were predominant in most domains. Higher number of themes were associated with elevated depressive symptoms (p = .045). Study findings provide insight into the lived experience of adolescent stressors and provide additional empirical evidence regarding the association between stressors and depressive symptoms. The ubiquitous themes of conflict and loss, and the implications of these themes for adolescents’ mental health provide insight for nurses as they advocate for quality mental and physical health care for adolescents and their families.

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