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Trajectories of depression symptoms during the process of deployment in military couples

APA Citation:

Coppola, E. C., Christ, S. L., Topp, D., Southwell, K., Bailey, K., & MacDermid Wadsworth, S. (2022). Trajectories of depressive symptoms during the process of deployment in military couples. Military Psychology, 34(1), 110-120. https://doi.org/10.1080/08995605.2021.1974807

Abstract Created by REACH:

Using data from 339 National Guard couples, this study examined reports of Service members’ and their partners’ patterns of depressive symptoms based on whether they experienced a deployment. More specifically, Service members and their partners reported on depressive symptoms at several points across ~2 years. Depressive symptom trajectories varied between Service members and partners and depended on deployment experience (i.e., deploying Service members, partners of deploying Service members, non-deploying Service members, and partners of non-deploying Service members).


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran
Guard/Reserve member


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Longitudinal Study
Quantitative Study


Coppola, Elizabeth C., Christ, Sharon L., Topp, David, Southwell, Kenona, Bailey, Keisha, MacDermid Wadsworth, Shelley


Informed by life course theory, we estimated depression symptom trajectories for couples throughout a deployment cycle using data from a longitudinal study of National Guard couples (n= 339). One-third of couples served as a comparison group by participating in data collection after their deployments were canceled. We proposed that 1) service members and partners would display multiple trajectories of depression symptoms that differ as a function of role (i.e., service member or at-home partner) and exposure to deployment; 2) trajectory patterns would be associated with indicators of human capital; 3) service members’ and partners’ depression symptoms would be linked to each other. We found that depressive symptom trajectories varied by exposure to deployment and role, and that higher levels of human capital were mostly associated with lower depressive symptoms, although we did not find support for partner interdependence. Results were considered in the context of life course theory and emotional cycles of deployment.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Human Development & Family Studies, Purdue University, ECC
Human Development & Family Studies, Purdue University, SLC
Human Development & Family Studies, Purdue University,DT
Eagle Technologies, Inc, KS
Human Development & Family Studies, Purdue University, KB
Human Development & Family Studies, Purdue University, SMW


depression symptoms, life course theory, Military couples, trajectories

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  July 2022

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