Academic Pressure Linked to Higher Depression Risk in Teens

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by News Medical.

A recent study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health examines whether and how the need to achieve certain goals increases the risk of depression in adolescents.

Achievement goals, which are defined as cognitive representations that guide behaviors, have been identified as a modifiable risk factor for depression in adolescents.

Some psychological models suggest that people oriented towards achievement are more likely to become depressed, as they are often more focused on performance rather than mastery goals. Moreover, the inability to compete successfully with peers can lead to reduced self-worth due to feelings of inadequacy.

The current study sought to control for confounding factors by using a more representative sample of students. To this end, data was obtained from the National Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

The study cohort included 3,200 kindergarten participants recruited between four and five years of age. About 2,700 from the baby group were recruited in the first year of life. Students in both cohorts were equally split between government and non-government schools.

Depressive symptom severity increased over time for both cohorts. In the kindergarten cohort, with each one-point increase in mastery-approach goals, there was a 33% reduced risk in depressive symptom severity scores, whereas a 30% reduction was observed in the baby cohort. With each corresponding increase in mastery-avoidance goals, a 35% and 44% increase in depressive symptom severity scores were observed within the kindergarten and baby cohorts, respectively.

The findings from the current longitudinal national-level adolescent cohort indicate that depression among adolescents is associated with their achievement goals. Although this is an early study, its findings reflect the utility of evaluating school environment interventions for their emphasis on mastery-approach goals.

Source: News Medical

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)