Trajectories of depressive symptoms and self-esteem in latino youths: Examining the role of gender and perceived discrimination

Katharine H. Zeiders, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor, Chelsea L. Derlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The current longitudinal study examined changes in Latino adolescents' (N = 323, M age = 15.31 years) self-esteem and depressive symptoms across the high school years. Differences in trajectories were examined by gender and perceived ethnic discrimination. Findings revealed that self-esteem increased across high school for both male adolescents and female adolescents. Depressive symptoms, however, showed differences by gender, with female adolescents reporting a decline in depressive symptoms across high school and male adolescents reporting no change. Perceived ethnic discrimination emerged as an important predictor of male adolescents' self-esteem in early high school and predicted changes in self-esteem growth for male adolescents and female adolescents across the high school years. Perceived ethnic discrimination also emerged as a significant predictor of adolescents' depressive symptoms in early high school but did not relate to changes in symptoms across time. Together, findings suggest that Latino adolescents experience positive changes in psychological adjustment across this developmental time. Experiences of ethnic discrimination, however, have the potential of placing adolescents at risk for maladjustment over time. These findings inform our understanding of Latino youth development and point to the importance of early high school years in youths' psychological functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-963
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Latino adolescents
  • Mental health trajectories
  • Perceived ethnic discrimination.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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