Predicting Difficulties in Youth's Friendships: Are Anxiety Symptoms as Damaging as Depressive Symptoms?


Youth's friendships serve important functions in development; however, internalizing symptoms may undermine these relationships. Two studies are presented that examine the association of depressive and anxiety symptoms with friendship adjustment. Study 1 tested concurrent effects and Study 2 tested prospective effects over 6 months. Like past studies, depressive symptoms predicted greater problems in friendships. However, anxiety symptoms generally did not and, in some cases, actually predicted positive friendship adjustment. The results suggest that the friendships of youth with depressive symptoms should be targeted for intervention, but that incorporating the friendship strengths of anxious youth in interventions could be helpful for reducing these youth's anxiety. The results also caution researchers studying the interplay between friendships and internalizing symptoms against collapsing across assessments of depressive and anxiety symptoms.