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Adolescents’ lives undergo considerable reorganization during school transitions, which require establishing new peer relationships and participating in more demanding academic activities. Yet, little is known about how school-transition stressors affect adolescents’ feelings of social anxiety (SA) and depression, especially among Hispanic youth who are at elevated risk for school dropout. We examined school-transition stressors as predictors of adolescents’ SA and depressive symptoms and evaluated whether the tendency to engage in repetitive negative thinking (RNT) (e.g., worry and rumination) served as a transdiagnostic mediating pathway. Participants were 461 Hispanic adolescents (Mage=14.22; 59% female) attending high school in a large metropolitan area of the U.S., who completed three surveys over the school year. At T1 (October), adolescents reported transition stressors related to school performance, peer pressure, teacher interactions, and school/leisure conflict, and current symptoms of SA and depression. At T2 (February), adolescents reported levels of RNT. At T3 (May), adolescents again reported symptoms of SA and depression. Structural equation modeling examined associations between transition stressors (T1) and symptoms of SA and depression at the end of the school year (T3) and whether RNT mediated these associations, controlling for gender and T1 symptoms. School performance stressors predicted increased SA and depressive symptoms at the end of the school year and RNT mediated these relationships. Furthermore, T1 peer pressure predicted T3 depressive symptoms. Overall, stressors during the high school transition affect Hispanic youth’s functioning, and RNT may be an important transdiagnostic target for interventions to reduce adolescent SA and depression.
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