are linked to these underlying neurobiological processes. Resilient individuals are not passive respondents to stress and adversity. Rather, those who are resilient are able to bring into action a set of skills to regulate thoughts and emotions and engage in behaviors that can resolve controllable sources of stress. Active forms of coping are associated with resilience in response to controllable stressors. In contrast, accommodative or secondary control coping, including emotion regulation skills, are related to better outcomes in response to uncontrollable stress (Compas et al., 2001).
Cognitive reappraisal, or the ability to view a stressful or threatening situation in a more positive light, is an example of an emotion-regulation or coping process that is related to resilience to stress in adolescents and adults (e.g., Compas, Jaser, and Benson, 2008; Gross, 2001). The ability to use cognitive reappraisal to manage stress and emotions develops during adolescence along with the development of basic cognitive executive function skills. Cognitive reappraisal and other forms of secondary control coping skills, including acceptance and the ability to use positive activities as a form of distraction, are a source of resilience in adolescents of parents with a history of depression (Jaser et al., 2005).
In a further study of adolescents whose parents have a history of depression, good-quality parenting despite depression and having a non-depressed parent or other adult to turn to were found to predict resilient outcomes (Brennan, LeBrocque, and Hammen, 2003). Although limited, the research on resilience in the face of risk factors for depression points in the direction of early interventions to improve parenting and children’s emotion regulation, and stress management as ways to reduce the negative impact of parental depression and other adverse conditions. Further integrative research on resilience mechanisms—as well as on interventions—is needed to support efforts to break the chain of intergenerational transmission of disorder and impairment.
Much is known about risk factors for depression, but further research is needed to test models of how multiple biological and psychosocial factors work together and to clarify the mechanisms by which stressful experiences lead to depressive reactions in individuals and in the family context. Similarly, the processes by which resilient outcomes occur despite exposure to parental depression and other adverse conditions are vastly complex, and research will benefit from developmentally sensitive and integrative models that can be tested over a longitudinal course. We need to know more about optimal timing and methods of intervention to prevent the development and escalation of depression in those at greatest risk—especially young people during their formative family and career years.