Relationship

How depression affects school performance

When a teen fails or does poorly in school, parents can react with understandable frustration and try everything from bribery to punishment to get their teen to change things. When all else fails, the tension rises and everyone gets exasperated and doesn’t know what causes and cures problems at school.

Depression, and not obstinacy or laziness. About 4% to 12% of school-age children (depending on their age) meet the criteria for being depressed, and since depression isn’t just experienced at home, it likely affects a teen’s performance as well at school. Teens who experience symptoms of depression often have difficulty completing schoolwork and are at risk for academic failure and poor performance. Without early diagnosis and treatment, an adolescent is likely to have a negative cycle of depression > school failure > increased depression due to failure.

School failure has a negative impact on a teenager’s self-esteem. A depressed teen may have difficulty working depending on her intellectual and academic ability. He rarely completes his homework and his test scores are likely to drop because he is tired and has trouble concentrating. To complicate matters, your teachers may not recognize the symptoms of depression.

School can also be a source of stress for your teen. For a depressed adolescent, school may be the primary situation in which substantial demands are placed on him. Significant social stress can occur if your teen has difficulty fitting in with her peer group.

Depression is likely to affect your teen in the following areas at school:

  • Ability to concentrate and pay attention. The depressed teen is often preoccupied with negative thoughts and feelings and finds it difficult to give his full attention to schoolwork. Concentration problems at school are one of the main complaints of adolescents suffering from depression. A depressed teen can improve her ability to pay attention if she sleeps well and feels rested.
  • Completing class work. When a teen is depressed, they have little energy to engage in activities they perceive as stressful or of little interest. A depressed teen may withdraw from typical activities and become resistant to teacher requests to participate in classroom activities. In this situation, it is good for teachers to be able to provide daily feedback to parents on the teen’s homework completion. It works best if used positively rather than negatively, so it doesn’t add undue pressure to the teen’s stress level. if he’s having a bad day, you can ignore it and try to focus on making the next day better.
  • Completing the task. Teens who are depressed often have a hard time finishing their homework because they lack focus, energy, and motivation. Most teens, of course, prefer not to have homework, but they do it because they know they have to. They are also aware that if they don’t, they may pay a price in the future. The depressed teenager is stuck in a nasty here and now. She’s not thinking about the future, and when she does, it’s without much hope or interest. She can create a behavior plan to set rewards for completing the task well. If homework continues to be a problem, you can try signing your teen up for an after-school homework program or suggest finding a study buddy.
  • Get to school. Many depressed teens have a hard time getting up in the morning and going to school. Because they are tired and have a hard time dealing with stressful situations, they may try to avoid school. You can help by encouraging your teen to develop good bedtime and wake-up routines. The less your son has to think about what she has to do in the morning or at night, the better. The process should become automatic, so that it goes smoothly.
  • Peer relations. Depressed teens often have difficulties that lead to social isolation. It’s another cycle of depression. A teen may withdraw and isolate himself from friends and classmates, leading to loneliness, which can perpetuate depression. Having friends and a social support system can be very helpful for a teen with depression. You should encourage your teen to attend extracurricular activities that teach a combination of social and academic skills, through activities such as noncompetitive sports, special interest clubs, or skill enhancement programs.
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