Life Stress: Psychological and socio-demographic variables as predictors of emotional distress

Beatriz Vallejo-Sánchez, Ana M. Pérez-García


Introduction: Personality and coping used to man­age stress play an important role in the development of mental health problems. The aim of this study was to analyse whether these variables, together with per­ceived stress and some relevant socio-demographic characteristics, could predict the level of anxiety and depressive symptoms presented in people diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder (AD). As well as analys­ing if the significant predictor variables were the same in the control group. Method: Perceived stress, personality, positivity, coping and symptoms were assessed in a group of patients with Adjustment Dis­order who went to a Mental Health Unit (N = 80) and a control group (N = 80). Regression analyses were carried out to predict symptomatology. Results: Psy­chological and some socio-demographic variables predicted symptomatology, however, the results were different depending on the group and type of symp­tom considered. In the control group, higher neuroti­cism and perceived stress, lower positivity, and un­employment status predicted more depressive symp­toms; whereas higher neuroticism, being a female, and unemployment predicted higher anxiety (coping was not relevant in any case). In the clinical group, the predictive capacity of variables was lower, espe­cially in the case of anxiety. Lower positivity, greater use of disengagement or avoidant coping, being a male and unemployment predicted higher depressive symptomatology, whereas only neuroticism predicted symptoms of anxiety. Conclusions: Personality, coping, perceived stress and socio-demographic characteristics could be factors of vulnerability that should be considered in the development of assess­ment, prevention and treatment strategies with people exposed to life stress. However, the characteristics of the group considered are a key factor in the selection of the most relevant strategy


personality; positivity; coping; perceived stress; adjustment disorder



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