The Impact of Time Since Menarche for Depressive and Anxiety Symptom Severity in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

Zhenyu Z. Zhang, Melissa K. Peckins, Sarah J. Beal, David J. Schnabel, Chad E. Shenk, Lorah D. Dorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The study mapped depressive and anxiety symptom trajectories throughout adolescence and early adulthood, arrayed by time since menarche, a novel indicator of pubertal change and examined the effect of age of menarche and pubertal timing, more frequently used variables, on depressive and anxiety symptom severity trajectories. Methods: Secondary analysis of a cross-sequential prospective longitudinal investigation included a community sample of 262 US, adolescent females. Participants were enrolled in age cohorts of 11, 13, 15, and 17 years. Four annual waves of data were collected. Self-report of age at menarche was categorized into pubertal timing categories. A novel measure “time since menarche” (chronological age at each wave minus age at menarche), was measured along with depressive and anxiety symptom severity. Two-piece growth curve modeling with landmark registration examined depressive and anxiety symptom severity trajectories according to time since menarche. Results: There was no change (p > .05) in depression and anxiety symptom severity before menarche; however, in the years leading away from menarche, depression and anxiety symptom severity decreased (p < .05). Age at menarche was not associated with change in depressive and anxiety symptom severity (p > .05) and there were no moderating effects of pubertal timing. Discussion: Depressive and anxiety symptoms decrease in the years leading away from menarche, suggesting puberty-related psychopathology may be transitory in some individuals. Time since menarche may be a clinically relevant indicator of psychological functioning in pubescent adolescent females. Future studies should examine this variable in larger samples, including more adolescents in the earlier stages of puberty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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