Deconstructing Depression: A latent profile analysis of potential depressive subtypes in emerging adults
Yakov Barton, PhD, Samuel Barkin, MS, & Lisa Miller, PhD
'Deconstructing Depression' is an empirical article that evolved from my 5-year dissertation study. It examines unique subtypes of depression, some of which may be strengths-based, and suggests that depression can both debilitate us or prompt life-changing growth and insight. Have we made a longstanding mistake pathologizing all depression?
The aim of the current investigation was to explore potential subtypes of depressive symptomatology from a phenomenological vantage point, focusing on dimensions of spirituality, positive human functioning, and character strengths. The study examines distinct presentational depressive symptom profiles in light of recent research on developmental depression—defined as depressive symptomatology that may characterize periods of major spiritual development, life transition, existential upheaval, and personal growth. Unique homogeneous profiles are inductively derived using depressive symptomatology domains and examined across spiritual and positive psychological variables within a large heterogeneous sample of 3,806 emerging adults (ages 18–25, M = 20.0, SD = 1.9). The present investigation utilizes latent profile analysis (LPA) interpreted in light of the developmental depression hypothesis. The LPA model produced contains three depressive symptomatology clusters, including mood, somatic, and cognitive areas of depressive functioning. Average scores on spiritual, existential, positive psychological, and relational covariate variables are examined across profiles. Results suggest that distinct subtypes of depression may exist throughout emerging adulthood. An interpretation of these results that supports the developmental depression hypothesis is proposed.