Teen Depression and School Performance

There’s a clear relationship between adolescent depression and how well a teen does in school. In fact, lower grades might be the first noticeable sign of depression. Research indicates that adolescents who suffer from depression are less likely to graduate (click to tweet). Unfortunately, it’s easy for parents and other family members to miss signs of this mental illness. There’s a common tendency to mistake a teen’s sullen mood, withdrawal, and infrequent communication with the stage of adolescence itself, thinking that your child is only “going through a phase”. However, a drop in grades can provide clear evidence that something might be amiss. Take a look at the symptoms of teen depression in children and adolescents and you’ll see why.

Possible Symptoms of Depression for a Teen Student

  • Difficulty concentrating can lead to poor work and performance on exams and assignments
  • Difficulty with planning, organizing, and executing tasks can lead to missing deadlines and not completing papers as assigned
  • Hypersensitivity can lead to easily hurt feelings, crying, and anger at school, which can lead to unhealthy social interactions among teachers and peers, and even suspension and expulsion from school
  • Inattention can lead to distractibility and restlessness
  • Forgetfulness can lead to not turning in assignments on time
  • Decreased self-esteem and low feelings of self-worth can result in frequent absence from school and truancy, feelings of rejection from peers, and isolation
  • A negative self-perception can lead to pessimism and suicidal thoughts
  • A frequent depressed mood can lead to substance abuse, addiction, sexual activity, and other risky and impulsive behavior

False Failure

Furthermore, depressed teens will often refuse to complete tasks they feel are too difficult or overwhelming, particularly if it causes them to doubt their ability to complete the task. Failing at an assignment only encourages a false self-perception of being dumb, incapable, or worthy of rejection. Add to this that depression often affects thinking clearly, effectively, and efficiently. An adolescents’ inability to think because of the depression only worsens his or her sense of self, and it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

Memory is also often impaired which becomes an obstacle when attempting to study for and pass exams. Finally, depression in children and adolescents can lead to laborious speech and a weakened ability to express thoughts and ideas. For example, class presentations or answering questions during class discussions can be a frightening experience that will be avoided at all costs, affecting grades and class performance.


If you see your teen’s grades decrease, talk to his or her teachers. Cultivate discussions with the principle, school counselor, and teachers’ aids. Find out what’s going on at school and become an active participant in your child’s education. If the above symptoms of depression are evident, schedule a mental health assessment for your teen. When depression is recognized early, the right treatment can help your child experience improved mood and function better in life and school.

Other Youth Mental Health Topics You May Find Helpful…

7 Most Common Teen Phobias

A phobia is a fear that is out of proportion to the object or situation involved. While everyone has fears, some people, particularly those with anxiety disorders, have phobias. The difference is often the reaction the fear produces. For example, you might be nervous about crossing an old wooden bridge, but since it’s leading to…

Continue Reading 7 Most Common Teen Phobias

top Skip to content