A meta-analysis finds the established stress generation model applies not only to depression, but also other mental health disorders.

A recent quantitative meta-analysis, published in the Psychological Bulletin, concludes that those who suffer from mental disorders are more likely to find themselves in stressful situations of their own making.

The team, co-led by Angela Santee, a psychology graduate student at the University of Rochester, and Katerina Rnic, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, looked at 95 longitudinal studies, spanning over 38,000 study participants, and more than 30 years of research.

They found that psychopathology—such as mental illness or disorders, including depression—predicted dependent stressful life events (events that the person, at least in part, contributed to) more strongly than it predicted independent or fateful events.

The meta-analysis bore out the stress generation model, developed in 1991 by University of California, Los Angeles, psychology professor Constance Hammen. According to the model, some people contribute more than others to the occurrence of dependent stressors—that is stressful life events that occur, at least in part, due to a person’s behavior or personal characteristics—such as relationship breakups, failing a class, or job loss because of conflict with a coworker. Conversely, according to the model, people do not influence independent stressors like fateful events that occur regardless of a person’s influence—such as the death of a loved one, or job loss due to an economic downturn.

While Hammen’s model had spawned plenty of research over the past three decades, the resulting literature had never been quantitatively summarized before.

“People with depression might be more likely to have arguments with others, or put off completing important tasks at work or home,” says Rnic. “This can lead to more stressors in their relationships, work, education, finances, health—all domains of life.”

Importantly, though, the team found that the theory of stress generation not only holds for people with depression but also across many other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, personality disorders, substance use, and childhood disruptive disorders.

Read the full article about depression and anxiety by Sandra Knispel at Futurity.