Social Support, Emotion Regulation and Resilience as Predictors of Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescent Students

Social Support, Emotion Regulation and Resilience as Predictors of Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescent Students

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CHAPTER FIVE

Discussion

The goal of the current study was to examine the predictive roles of social support, emotion regulation and resilience in depressive symptoms among adolescent students. The current study revealed that support from special person did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Family support did not significantly predict depressive symptoms; and support from friends significantly and negatively predicted depressive symptoms. Thus the first and second hypothesis which stated that support from special person will significantly predict depressive symptoms, and family support will significantly predict depressive symptoms were not supported. The third hypothesis which stated that support from friends will significantly predict depression was supported.

In the present sample, getting a certain level of social support (high or low) from significant others and family, will not indicate the presence or absence of depressive symptoms. However, if an adolescent is given a low level of family support then there is no significant indication that there will be signs of the depression. The person could still go about their activities with other social support from other groups. But then the study found that having higher support from friends was associated with lower symptoms of depression. As such could be said that at the adolescent stage, their friends support and approval meant a lot to them. Previous findings (e.g., Clorinda et al., 2016; Xingmin et al., 2014); Barbara, Philip, & Sarah, 2007; Grav et al., 2012) showed that social support significantly and positively predicted symptoms of depression.

The study revealed that emotion regulation positively predicted depressive symptoms. Thus the fourth hypotheses which stated that emotion regulation will significantly predict depressive symptoms was supported. The finding is consistent with the previous research findings (e.g.,  Jonas et al., 2017; Yanhua & Guoxiang 2015; Marroquín & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2015; Shannon & Kathryn, 2011; Nadia et al., 2004) indicating that emotion regulation significantly predicted depression. These findings demonstrate that it is meaningful to involve emotion regulation processes in explaining adolescent depressive symptoms. The result further relates to mechanisms of emotion regulation in terms of both basic processes and depressive psychopathology, suggesting that emotion regulation is a channel through which social factors affect internal functioning and mental health, and inform relationship pathways for clinical intervention.

Finally, the study revealed that resilience did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Hence the fifth hypothesis which stated that resilience will significantly predict depressive symptoms was not supported. The findings of the present study is in disagreement with the works of Lee et al (2018); Maria et al. (2017); and Inger et al. (2014) who in their studies found resilience to be a significant predictor of depressive symptoms. In other words, an adolescent’s level of ability (high or low) to resist or bounce back from physical, psychological or emotional disturbances does not indicate that the individual will have depressive symptoms. As such an individual might not be able to bounce back immediately from a sudden or prolonged problem, and as well be mentally sound and happy.

Implications of the Findings of Study

The findings from the present study revealed that support from special person did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Family support did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Support from friends significantly and negatively predicted depressive symptoms. Emotion regulation positively predicted depressive symptoms, indicating that those with higher difficulties in regulating emotions had more depressive symptoms and finally that Resilience did not significantly predict depressive symptoms.

Depression has attracted a lot of interest of recent researchers. This is because of the negative consequences (for instance insomnia, and negative thoughts, suicidal ideations) associated with depression. This findings of this study implies that awareness should be created about depression, its antecedents and consequences. A great attention should be given to the adolescents being that they might be going through depressive symptoms and might not tell anyone about it, because they cannot even define what they are going through. Once the symptoms of depression are noticed, it is advised that immediate intervention is given and not rather prolonged.

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Also the results of this study imply that at least a certain amount of social support is being needed by an adolescent so as to give them a sense of belonging and being cared for, and has assistance available from other people, but more importantly support from friends was found to be negatively significant to depression, meaning that the higher the level of social support from friends, the lower the level of depression. At this stage, the adolescents seem to value their friendship a lot. These supportive resources can be emotional (e.g., nurturance), tangible (e.g., financial assistance), informational (e.g., advice), or companionship (e.g., sense of belonging) and intangible (e.g., personal advice).

This study found that emotion regulation was a positive and significant predictor of depression. This implies that adolescents with depressive symptoms experience a wide range of difficulties with emotion regulation. As such they should be trained on how to control their emotions for emotional stability.

Finally, resilience was not a significant predictor of depression. This implies that the presence of depressive symptoms cannot be attributed to resilience in adolescents. When an adolescent has just undergone a stressful situation and seems not to be able to bounce back fully, the person could still possible be doing his normally daily activities actively while still trying get over that situation.

 

Limitation of the study

The size of the sample was relatively small, and the sample population was limited to only 325 students drawn from just two secondary schools, and as such the generalizability of the results may be limited. Subjects might have given random answer while filling the questionnaire which may have affected the results. The use of quantitative self-administered questionnaires did not allow for the researcher to fully explore the issues and reasons affecting life satisfaction. There is the possibility of self-report bias by the participants.

 

Suggestions for Further Study

Sample size should be larger in future studies. Future research should consider performing a large scale survey of undergraduates from different universities. Focus groups and awareness can also be conducted to explain to adolescent what depression is, their effects and how to get over them. In addition, there is a need for interventional studies aimed at helping college students who experience depressive symptoms. More so, research replicating the present study could also be performed to either confirm or repudiate the findings of the study.

 

Summary and conclusion

The present study examined social support, emotion regulation and resilience as predictors of depressive symptoms among adolescent students. The study aims to add to the existing literature. To the knowledge of the researcher, no previous study in Nigeria has studied the predictive role of social support, emotion regulation and resilience on depressive symptoms among adolescent secondary school students. The following theories were reviewed in this work to explain the variables: Beck’s Cognitive theory, Learned Helplessness theory, Direct and buffering model of social support, Gross’ Theory of Emotion Regulation and Resilience Theory.

Participants were 325 adolescent students who were drawn from the population of St. Theresa’s College Nsukka and Queen of the Rosary Secondary School Nsukka. Of the total sampling, 157 were females and 168 were males. The participants were selected using a random probability sampling. The average respondent age of the sample was 15.02 (SD = 1.58, ranging from 11 to 19 years). Participation was voluntary. A questionnaire form comprising four measures was given to the participants for completion. The measures were: The Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D); the Emotion Dysregulation Scale – short form; the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS); and the Resilience Scale. The questionnaire was administered to the students in their classrooms.

The findings from the present study revealed that support from special person did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Family support did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Support from friends significantly and negatively predicted depressive symptoms. Emotion regulation positively predicted depressive symptoms, indicating that those with higher difficulties in regulating emotions had more depressive symptoms and finally that Resilience did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Hence, support from friends and emotion regulation were significant predictors of depressive symptoms.

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