Examining Effects of Earliest Pubertal Changes on Mood in Preadolescent Girls

Our group has conducted an exploratory investigation in order to examine pubertal and hormonal effects on mood during the time when pubertal hormones are expected to be increasing prior to and along with early changes in secondary sexual characteristics (Archibald, Graber, & Brooks-Gunn, 2004). Participants were 76 preadolescent girls of varied ethnic backgrounds: White (n = 36), African American (n = 25), and Latina (n = 15). Girls were recruited in 1995 from public and parochial schools from integrated, working- and middle-class communities in outlying areas of New York City. Mean age of girls at the first (Time 1) and second time (Time 2) of assessment was 8.34 years (SD = .48) and

9.25 years (SD = .44), respectively. The majority of girls (69%) were living in two-parent households (55% with biological parents). About a quarter (24%) of the girls' families were living below the federal poverty level (based on income-to-needs ratio); 42% of the girls' families were living at the 1995 U.S. median/modal annual income of $34,500.

Girls completed Daily Mood Diaries (Buchanan, 1991) on two consecutive evenings at Time 1 and at Time 2. Girls rated on a 5-point Likert scale the degree to which they experienced a range of feelings (excited, sad, impatient, happy, tired, friendly, ashamed, nervous, proud) on the particular day that they completed the diary. Principal components factor analyses were conducted to determine how many underlying constructs or dimensions accounted for the majority of variance in the Daily Mood Diary. A "positive mood" dimension emerged, which consisted of happy, excited, and proud moods. Girls' scores on these three moods were averaged across the two days at each time point to yield positive mood scores. The negative moods on the Daily Mood Diary failed to significantly load together on one or more factors, and thus, failed to result in a reliable mood composite. It appeared that anger and sadness were the more distinct emotions or feelings and they were therefore used as separate dependent variables. Girls' scores on each of these negative moods were separately averaged across each of the 2 days at each time point to yield composite mood scores at Time 1 and Time 2. Mood composite scores served as indices of mood intensity. Consistent with the technique used by Buchanan (1991), variability of each mood was defined as the variance of each girl's daily mood composite over the 2 days at each time point.

To assess pubertal status, mothers completed Tanner ratings (Marshall & Tanner, 1969) of their daughters' breast and pubic hair development. A combined pubertal status variable was created by taking the mean of each girl's breast development and pubic hair development stage at each time of assessment. Additionally, change scores were computed to determine degree of change in pubertal status from Time 1 to Time 2. To assess pubertal hormone levels, girls separately collected morning and afternoon urine samples on two consecutive days. Samples were assayed for levels of gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) by a physician-trained lab technician. For the analyses, a ratio of morning hormone levels was used because of their relative uniformity and high concentration (Saketos, Sharma, Adel, Raghuwanshi, & Santoro, 1994) and because single daytime measurements do not reliably indicate stage of puberty (Grumbach & Styne, 1998). Since LH shows periodic bursts while FSH increases more steadily in the earliest stages of puberty, a LH/FSH ratio should tap "bursting/pulsing." Change scores were also computed to determine the degree of change in ratio of morning hormone levels from Time 1 to Time 2. Pubertal timing was categorized as "early-maturing girls" (Tanner stage 2 or greater at Time 1; n = 31) versus "physically prepubertal girls" (n = 45).

The first research question addressed whether the three aspects of puberty (status, hormone levels, and early timing) were linked to girls' moods at Time 1. Separate ordered regression models were tested to examine direct associations between girls' moods and each pubertal predictor, controlling for age. No significant concurrent associations were found between girls' moods and hormones, secondary sexual characteristics or pubertal timing at Time 1. The lack of association between concurrent pubertal status and mood is not surprising given the few and relatively small links found in previous studies (Buchanan, 1991; Richards & Larson, 1993). Perhaps hormone levels and secondary sexual characteristic development are predictive of moods at a later time point.

The second question assessed whether longitudinal changes in the three aspects of puberty were linked to dimensions of girls' moods at Time 2. Separate ordered regression models were tested to examine the direct effects of girls' moods at Time 2 of changes in secondary sexual characteristics and hormone levels, controlling for age. Increases in LH/FSH over the two time points were predictive of greater anger intensity at Time 2. This relationship remained significant after accounting for increases in secondary sexual characteristic development in follow-up analyses. This finding suggests that girls experience the earliest hormonal changes of puberty negatively, as evidenced by higher anger intensity

Because no significant effects were found when testing linear associations between secondary sexual characteristic change and mood indices, an alternative approach to these analyses was undertaken to determine if patterns of change in secondary sexual characteristics were more salient than difference scores. Five groups of Tanner pubertal status change were identified over time:

1. Prepubertal: combined Tanner stage of 1 at each time point

2. Beginning puberty: moving from prepubertal at Time 1 to low-mid stages of puberty at Time 2

3. Stable in lower stages of puberty: combined Tanner score of 1.5 at each time point

4. Lower stages of puberty and increasing: Tanner score of 1.5 at Time 1 and increasing to mid-puberty by Time 2

5. Mid-pubertal and increasing: combined Tanner stage 2 or 3 at Time 1 and increasing to 4 or 5 at Time 2 Separate Tanner Change Group x Time Point (5 x 2) repeated measures analysis of variance models were tested using mood intensity and variability scores as the outcome variables. A significant Tanner Change Group x Time Point interaction was found for positive mood intensity, in that girls who were in the stable low puberty group were experiencing the most positive mood at each time point and remained highly positive in their mood over time. Girls who were beginning puberty showed the greatest decreases in positive mood over time, and had the lowest positive mood scores at Time 2. A trend-level Tanner Change Group x Time Point interaction was found for sad intensity, in that girls who were beginning puberty showed the greatest increases in sad mood over time, and were experiencing the most sadness at Time 2 of all the girls. Girls who were mid-pubertal at Time 1 and increasing at Time 2 were experiencing more sad intensity at Time 1, but had decreased by Time 2. Girls in the other groups remained fairly stable over time. This finding is illustrated in Figure 16.5.

Regression results showed that girls' early pubertal timing predicted their increased positive mood at Time 2. Separate Pubertal Timing x Time Point repeated measures analysis of variance models were also tested to assess if early pubertal timing accentuated the experience of more intense or variable

Effects of Change in Pubertal Development on Girls' Sad Mood Intensity

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