The Relationship Between Law Violation and Depression: An Interactions Analysis

This paper integrates arguments from differential social control theory with sociological research on mental health to develop an interactionist explanation of the relationship between law violation and depression. We focus on the possibility that law violation and depression are related because they share common antecedents, as well as the possibility that these problems mutually influence one another over time. We test hypotheses derived from our theoretical perspective using covariance structure analysis and panel data. Our results show that the relationship between law violation and depression can be explained largely by common antecedents—social-structural positions, stressful life events, and adolescent problems shape social relationships and identities, which together influence the likelihood of both early adulthood crime and depression. We also find limited support for mutual influence.