THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Lower school grades among
depressed adolescents are linked to behavior problems, not their
depression, a new study finds.
Researchers examined data from thousands of U.S. teens who were
tracked through their middle and high school years and as they
moved into early adulthood.
Unlike students with depression, those with behavior problems
such as attention issues, delinquency or substance use had lower
GPAs than others. The study also found that delinquency and
substance use were associated with receiving lesser educational
degrees, while depression was not.
Students with two of these problems typically earned lower GPAs
and lesser degrees than those with one problem, and some
combinations of problems had more harmful effects than others,
according to the study, which was published in the December issue
Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
For instance, substance use worsened the educational risks
associated with depression, attention issues and delinquency.
Having depression did not, however, increase the educational risks
associated with attention issues, delinquency or substance use.
"Behavior problems including attention issues, delinquency and substance use are associated with diminished achievement, but depression is not," study lead author Jane McLeod, a sociology professor and associate dean at Indiana University, in Bloomington, said in a journal news release.
"Certainly, there are depressed youths who have trouble in school, but it's likely because they are also using substances, engaging in delinquent activities or have attention issues," she added.
"There's a fairly sizable literature that links depression in high school to diminished academic achievement," McLeod noted. "The argument we make in our study is what's really happening is that youths who are depressed also have other problems, and it's those other problems that are adversely affecting their achievement."
McLeod said the findings suggest that schools should reconsider
the approach they take to dealing with students with behavior
"Perhaps, they should think about moving away from punitive approaches toward approaches aimed at integrating these students into the school community," she suggested.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
child and teen mental health.