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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2011, Article ID 935871, 11 pages
Research Article

Depressive Symptoms and Deliberate Self-Harm in a Community Sample of Adolescents: A Prospective Study

Department of Psychology, Lund University, Box 213, 221 00 Lund, Sweden

Received 1 June 2010; Revised 11 August 2010; Accepted 19 October 2010

Academic Editor: Rory O'Connor

Copyright © 2011 Lars-Gunnar Lundh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The associations between depressive symptoms and deliberate self-harm were studied by means of a 2-wave longitudinal design in a community sample of 1052 young adolescents, with longitudinal data for 83.6% of the sample. Evidence was found for a bidirectional relationship in girls, with depressive symptoms being a risk factor for increased self-harm one year later and self-harm a risk factor for increased depressive symptoms. Cluster analysis of profiles of depressive symptoms led to the identification of two clusters with clear depressive profiles (one severe, the other mild/moderate) which were both characterized by an overrepresentation of girls and elevated levels of self-harm. Clusters with more circumscribed problems were also identified; of these, significantly increased levels of self-harm were found in a cluster characterized by negative self-image and in a cluster characterized by dysphoric relations to parents. It is suggested that self-harm serves more to regulate negative self-related feelings than sadness.