Teenagers and Bad Grades: Depression or Bad Behavior?

Teenagers and Bad Grades: Depression or Bad Behavior?

Succeeding in high school is an important foundation for teenagers as they transition into early adulthood. It is important to stay informed about your teen’s performance at school by communicating with teachers, administrators, or guidance counselors. Talk to your teenager if report card grades fell below expectations. While a drop in grades could be as simple as your teenager struggling with a new subject or teacher, it could be a red flag for a variety of issues such as attention issues such as ADHD, depression, substance abuse, or bad behavior. Consider all factors to help your teen get back on track as soon as possible.

Traditionally, research has shown that adolescents suffering from depression are at risk for academic underachievement, however; a new study, “Adolescent Mental Health, Behavior Problems and Academic Achievement,” published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior argues that depression is not the cause of bad grades. “Behavior problems including attention issues, delinquency and substance abuse are associated with diminished achievement, but depression is not,” Dr. Jane D. McLeod, the study’s lead author. “The argument we make in our study is what’s really happening is that youths who are depressed also have other problems as well, and it’s those other problems that are adversely affecting their achievement.” While depression may not directly affect a teenager’s grades, it does increase the risk of developing other issues that do in fact diminish academic performance.

As with many mental health issues, depression increases the risk of developing other mental health disorders such as anxiety and substance abuse. Depression is a highly treatable mental health disorder with counseling from a mental health professional or a combination of counseling and anti-depressant medication for severe cases. Despite this, only 33% of depression sufferers seek treatment. For more details on teenage depression read my blog post “Depression and Teenagers: A parent’s guide to understanding teen depression.”

Please share my article. Thank you!




By Miguel Brown