Psychosocial determinants of depression and maladaptive behaviour in adolescence: two tested models
Objective: Self-esteem has been identified as a strong predictor of depression and maladaptive behaviours in adolescents. Two relational models (A and B) were tested on the antecedent and consequent variables of self-esteem.
Methods: A representative sample of 610 Spanish adolescents (52% boys) ranging in age from 11 to 16 years of age (mean age = 13.38 years, SD = 1.70 years) was used. The participants completed a battery of instruments measuring self-esteem, self-concept, importance of self-concept domains, depression symptoms, and problem behaviour. Covariance structure analysis (path analysis) from LISREL 8.54 was employed.
Results: Model B presented a better fit (χ2difference (A–B) = 160.29, p < 0.001). Perceived social support (parents and classmates), and perceptions of competence in domains deemed important were positively related to self-esteem. While both self-esteem and social support (parents and classmates) were negatively related to depression symptoms, only social support (parents and teacher) appeared negatively related to behavioural problems.
Conclusions: While self-esteem constitutes a strong correlate of affective symptoms in Spanish adolescents, it is unrelated to maladaptive behaviour. Social support emerged as an important protective factor. Concrete proposals for future research and prevention are discussed.