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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page

Dedication

Acknowledgment

Table of contents

List of tables

Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION                                                                                 

Statement of the Problem

Purpose of the Study

Operational Definition of Terms

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW                                                                    

Theoretical Review

Empirical Review

Summary of Literature Review

Hypotheses

CHAPTER THREE: METHOD                                                                                         

Participants

Instruments

Procedure

Design/Statistics

CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS                                                                                            

Results and Analysis

CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION                                                                                        

The implication of the Study

Limitations of the Study

Suggestions for further research

Summary and Conclusion

REFERENCES                                                                                                                     

APPENDICES

 

LIST OF TABLES

Table 1: Correlations of demographic variables, social support, emotion regulation, resilience, and depression

Table 2: Hierarchical multiple regression predicting depressive symptoms by social support, emotion regulation, and resilience

 

ABSTRACT

This study evaluated the predicting potential of social support, emotion regulation and resilience in depressive symptoms among adolescent students. Three hundred and fifty (350) secondary school students from St. Theresa’s College, Nsukka and Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka participated in the study. The variables were measured using 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 (RS-14). A cross-sectional design was adopted for the study. Hierarchical multiple linear regression was used to test the hypotheses. The results showed that support from special persons did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Family support did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Support from friends significantly and negatively predicted depressive symptoms, showing that having higher support from friends was associated with lower symptoms of depression. Emotion regulation positively predicted depressive symptoms, indicating that those with higher difficulties in regulating emotions had more depressive symptoms. Resilience did not significantly predict depressive symptoms. Findings were discussed on the basis of previous literature. It was suggested that interventions to ensure the regulation of emotions and provide the necessary support to adolescents would be helpful in preventing depressive symptoms.

Keywords: Adolescent students, depressive symptoms, emotion regulation, resilience, social support.

 

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and psychological development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood (age of majority) (Cooney, 2010). Adolescence is usually associated with the teenage years, but its physical, psychological or cultural expressions may begin earlier and end later. For example, puberty now typically begins during adolescence, particularly in females. Thus age provides only a rough marker of adolescence, and scholars have found it difficult to agree upon a precise definition of adolescence (Dorn & Biro, 2011). Adolescence can be defined biologically, as the physical transition marked by the onset of puberty and the termination of physical growth; cognitively, as changes in the ability to think abstractly and multi-dimensionally; or socially, as a period of preparation for adult roles. Cognitive advances encompass both increment in knowledge and in the ability to think abstractly and to reason more effectively (Cote, 1996).

Adjusting to physical and hormonal changes, the emergence of an autonomous self, increased parent-child conflict, newfound social and academic responsibilities, and a desire for intimacy with others, are examples of stressors that may predispose an adolescent to experience unipolar depression. Due to the storm and stress of adolescence transitions, some individuals may develop psychopathologies like depression. The presence of depression disrupts a young person’s maturational development through the detrimental impact it has on social and educational functioning. For example, evidence indicates that major depression slows down some aspects of cognitive development and interferes with the acquisition of verbal skills; which can lead to dropping out of school (Kovacs, 1989). Moreover, research indicates that in the long-term, depression that recurs leads to an increased risk for a depressive disorder and dysfunction in young adulthood (Garber et al., 1988). Not only is adolescent depression the most significant predictor of adult depression; it also predicts increased risk among females of higher divorce rates and estrangement from parents, while among males there exists an increased risk for higher rates of unemployment and car accidents. Both are at an increased risk for decreased intimacy with spouses and for illegal activities (McFarlane et al., 1994). Thus, the study of adolescent depression and its predictors are of utmost importance.

Most times, people do experience extreme cases of sadness, which could go further to affect their affective, behavioural and cognitive processes. This extreme case could be referred to as depression. Depression, a type mood disorder, is the most prevalent mental health problem among people, of all age brackets (APA, 2013). It is an extremely common problem, and it can be extremely painful, regardless of individual’s age or life circumstances. The mental health problem of depression, particularly, is a general public health concern which is very common, costly and debilitating in rural areas (Douglas et al., 2013).

According to the DSM-5, depression is defined as a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities for a period of at least 2 weeks, considering that children and adolescents may be irritable instead of sad. (APA, 2013). Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with sad mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. It is a disorder of the brain. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Depression is the leading cause of disability as measured by years lost due to disabilities (YLDs). By the year 2020, depression is projected to reach second place in the ranking of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) calculated for all ages and among both sexes (WHO, 2003, 2008). Depression is not always a psychiatric disorder. It may also be a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions or side effects of some drugs and treatments (Sarason & Sarason, 2005).

It is the most common of the affective disorders and it may range from a very mild condition, bordering on normality, to severe (psychotic) depression accompanied by hallucinations and delusions (Carleton et al., 2013). Worldwide, depression is a major cause of disability and premature death (WHO, 2017). Life throws up innumerable situations, which we greet with both negative and positive emotions such as excitement, frustration, fear, happiness, anger, sadness. Depression is prevalent among all age groups, genders, and backgrounds in almost all walks of life. It usually starts in early adulthood, with likely recurrences (Daniel et al., 2007). An episode may be characterized by sadness, indifference or apathy, or irritability. Depression can be characterized three circumstances which includes; emotion, cognition and motor activity. Under emotion, feelings of gloom, hopelessness, social withdrawal and irritability are observed; in cognition, there is slowness of thought process, obsessive worrying, inability to make decisions, negative self-image, delusion of guilt and disease, and lastly; motor activity is observed from less activeness, tiredness, difficulty in sleeping, decreased sex drive and appetite (Wayne, 2007).

Depressive symptoms are changes or signs which indicate the presence of depression in an individual. Some of the depressive symptoms include: Feelings of sadness or unhappiness, irritability or frustration, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, reduced sex drive, insomnia or excessive sleeping, changes in appetite (decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain), agitation or restlessness, irritability or angry outbursts, slowed thinking, speaking or body movements, indecisiveness, distractibility or decreased concentration, fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide, unexplained physical problems, such as back, pain or headaches, and many others (APA, 2007; Little, 2009; Patel, Pereira, & Mann, 1998). These symptoms can range from occasional normal “down” periods to episodes severe enough to require hospitalization (Beinstein et al., 2006). If the symptoms become recurrent or chronic, it can lead to substantial impairment in an individual’s ability to function effectively (WHO, 2008). Depression affects each person in different ways, so symptoms caused by depression vary from person to person. Depression and depressive symptoms affect all areas of parent/child relationships, such as attachment, discipline environment, modelling of intimate relationships and overall family environment (Elgar et al., 2004).

A depressive disorder is a syndrome (group of symptoms) that reflects a sad and/or irritable mood exceeding normal sadness or grief. More specifically, the sadness of depression is characterized by a greater intensity and duration and by more severe symptoms and functional disabilities than is normal. Depressive signs and symptoms are characterized not only by negative thoughts, moods, and behaviours but also by specific changes in bodily functions (for example, crying spells, body aches, low energy or libido, as well as problems with eating, weight, or sleeping). The functional changes of clinical depression are often called neurovegetative signs (Dryden-Edwards, 2016). This means that the nervous system changes in the brain are caused by many physical symptoms that result in diminished participation and a decreased or increased activity level.

Depression is one of the major causes or risk factors of suicide among adolescents, and more than half of the suicide victims in this age group are diagnosed with depressive orders before their demise (Thapar et al., 2010). Depression among teenagers is also a leading cause of educational and social impairments, substance abuse, obesity, and increased risk of smoking. Expressed insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, and vocalizing general aches, pains, and digestive problems and a reduced energy may also be present in individuals experiencing depression (Lewinsohn et al., 2003).

According to Cote (1996), the prevalence of depression in adolescence is less than 1% in most studies with no sex differences, and then rises substantially throughout adolescence. Many factors could explain the recorded post-pubertal rise in prevalence because adolescence is a developmental period characterized by pronounced biological and social changes. One of the most robust epidemiological findings is the emergence of a strong female preponderance (about 2:1) in the prevalence of depression in adolescents after puberty. The excess of affected girls is seen in epidemiological as well as clinical samples, and is robust across different methods of assessment. Sex differences in rates of depression are therefore unlikely to be merely due to differences in help-seeking or reporting of symptoms. Although the reasons for this post-pubertal-onset sex difference are not fully understood, adolescent depression is more closely tied to female hormonal changes than to chronological age, which suggests that depression is directly linked to pubertal changes in hormone–brain relations (Lewinsohn et al., 2003). However, psychosocial factors may also be in studied in depression. The feral study exam as social support, resilience and emotion regulation as predictors of depressive symptoms among adolescence.

Social support is a broad construct that encompasses the belief that others are supportive and the associated behaviors that individuals give and receive to express support.  Given the heterogeneity of the construct, it is not surprising that the associations of social support appear to vary considerably depending on the type of social support assessed (Wills & Shinar, 2000).  Social support refers to the expectation that family, friends, or others would be available to assist when needed, while received social support refers to the amounts and types of support actually received (e.g., material assistance, advice, validation) (Wills & Shinar, 2000).

Social support is typically associated with buffering the effects of stress or lower overall symptoms, whereas received social support is sometimes associated with higher symptoms (Wills & Shinar, 2000), which is believed to reflect the active support seeking of individuals with higher stress.  The present study focused on the benefits of social support and the individual difference characteristics that moderate the impact of one’s beliefs about social support.

Social support (SS) has been examined from both a general perspective and by assessing individuals’ perceptions of support from specific others.  Global PSS measures assess individuals’ general perceptions that others are available for support in one’s life, without specifying individuals’ roles (Cohen & Wills, 1985).  Alternatively, role-specific PSS can be assessed such that participants report their perception of support from individuals that fill specific interpersonal roles (i.e., friends, family, spouse; Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1988).  Both general and role-specific measures are widely used and have demonstrated important effects.  Wills and Shinar (2000) recommend that measures should be selected based on the research questions of interest.  In the present study, general social support will be assessed, as the primary interest is whether individual-specific characteristics moderate the effects of social support, rather than differences in support by provider role.

            Social support is the perception and actuality that one is cared for, has assistance available from other people, and that one is part of a supportive social network. 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) (Cattley, 2004). Cohen and Wills (1985) observed that social support can be measured as the perception that one has assistance available, the actual received assistance, or the degree to which a person is integrated in a social network. Support can come from many sources, such as family, friends, pets, neighbors, coworkers, organizations, etc. Government-provided social support is often referred to as public aid. Social support is studied across a wide range of disciplines including psychology, medicine, sociology, nursing, public health, and social work. Social support has been linked to many benefits for both physical and mental health, but social support is not always beneficial. Social support has been proposed as one of the protective factors to stress that include social systems as a source of well-being. Particularly in children and adolescents studies, social support is seen as a manifestation of community social capital (Ellonen, Kaariainen, & Autio, 2008).

Social support has been defined as the instrumental and/or expressive provisions, real or perceived, given by the community, social networks, and intimate relationships (Lin, Dean & Ensel, 1986). This definition includes different perspectives of the study of social support (structural, functional, and contextual), the different levels of analysis (community, social networks, and intimate relationships), and it differentiates between real versus perceived support. While studying social support from a functional perspective, the analysis focuses on the different types of support that adolescents search for and receive. Following Cohen and Wills’ (1985), classical taxonomy, and can distinguish among emotional support, instrumental or material support, informative support, and social company. Emotional support encompasses behaviours that grant affective well-being like listening, expressing love, and appreciation. Vollmann et al. (2010), found this kind of support to be the most beneficial in depression for purveying the receptors with a sense of acceptance that reinforces their self-esteem. In adolescents, emotional support from friends and family has also been revealed superior to the other types of support (Griffiths, Crisp, Barney & Reid, 2011).

A contextual perspective of analysis on social support focuses on the environmental and social conditions in which the transactions take place, like the sources of support. The main sources for adolescents are family, peers, college mates and staff, cultural, sports, social organizations and groups, and online social networks. Parental support deficits, and not peers’, have been shown to predict depressive symptoms (Stice, Ragan, & Randall, 2004). On the other hand, adolescents feel freer to talk about their problems with peers than parents (Aisenson et al., 2007). A link between teachers’ support and students’ well-being has been revealed rather than family and friends’ support (Cattley, 2004). On the other hand, community connectedness is a resilience factor for high-risk adolescents (Mosavel, Ahmed, Ports, & Simon, 2013).

Based on the Multi-dimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), social support has three dimensions, family support, support from friends and support from significant persons. Family Support is defined as an integrated network of community-based resources and services that strengthens parenting practices and the healthy development of children. A healthy parent is a healthy child. Social support from friends means having friends to turn to in times of need or crisis to give you a broader focus and positive self-image. Social support from significant others is the perception and actuality that one is cared for and has assistance available from a person with whom someone has an established romantic or sexual relationship.

Emotion regulation, the second independent variable in this study, is the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as well as the ability to delay spontaneous reactions as needed as observed by Aldao, Nolen-Hoeksema & Schweizer  (2010). Thompson (1994) defined emotion regulation as the “extrinsic or intrinsic processes responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional reactions, especially their intensive and temporal features, to accomplish one’s goals” (pp. 27–28). ER involves responding to internal and external stimuli in a more or less strategic way, to maintain adaptive, goal-oriented functioning given situational demands (Gross, 1998). Individual differences in use of ER strategies have cognitive, emotional, and social consequences in both healthy and disordered populations, and chronic use of maladaptive ER can strongly influence distress and symptomatology (Gross & John, 2003; Nolen-Hoeksema, Wisco, & Lyubomirsky, 2008).

It can also be defined as extrinsic and intrinsic processes responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional reactions. Emotion self-regulation belongs to the broader set of emotion-regulation processes, which includes the regulation of one’s own feelings and the regulation of other people’s feelings (Koole, 2009).

Emotional regulation is a complex process that involves initiating, inhibiting, or modulating one’s state or behavior in a given situation – for example the subjective experience (feelings), cognitive responses (thoughts), emotion-related physiological responses (for example heart rate or hormonal activity), and emotion-related behavior (bodily actions or expressions). Functionally, emotional regulation can also refer to processes such as the tendency to focus one’s attention to a task and the ability to suppress inappropriate behavior under instruction. Emotional regulation is a highly significant function in human life (Gross, 2002).

McLaughlin, Hatzenbuehler, Mennin, & Nolen-Hoeksema (2011) revealed that people are continually exposed to a wide variety of potentially arousing stimuli. Inappropriate, extreme or unchecked emotional reactions to such stimuli could impede functional fit within society; therefore, people must engage in some form of emotion regulation almost all of the time. Generally speaking, emotional dysregulation has been defined as difficulties in controlling the influence of emotional arousal on the organization and quality of thoughts, actions, and interactions. Individuals who are emotionally dysregulated exhibit patterns of responding in which there is a mismatch between their goals, responses, and/or modes of expression, and the demands of the social environment. For example, there is a significant association between emotion dysregulation and symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating pathology, and substance abuse. Higher levels of emotion regulation are likely to be related to both high levels of social competence and the expression of socially appropriate emotions (Burman, Green, & Shanker, 2015).

The emotions we feel and express are very important for our psychosocial and physical well-being, e.g. they might promote goal achievement, facilitate interpersonal interactions, and guide behavior to enhance health promotion. However, felt emotions are not always functional, adaptive. For example, they might make us choose a socially inappropriate or risky course of action, or they might disrupt an important interpersonal bond. In such instances, regulating one’s emotions is necessary to appropriately respond to environmental demands (Gross, 2002). Emotion regulation (EmR) is conceived as “the extrinsic and intrinsic processes responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional reactions, especially their intensive and temporal features, to accomplish one’s goals” (Thompson, 1994) process that might be activated at any phase of emotional responding, through strategies that involve conscious or unconscious processes.

The study of Emotion regulation is pursued in many disciplinary fields, from neuroscience to developmental, personality, social, and clinical psychology, and in health-related literatures (Gross, 2002). Due to the complexity of the construct and its partial overlap with other self-regulatory strategies (coping strategies especially; Compas, 2009; Compas, Connor-Smith, Saltzman, Thomsen, & Wadsworth, 2001; Kashdan, Barrios, Forsyth, & Steger, 2006; Zimmer-Gembeck & Skinner, 2011) several definitions of the emotion regulation process, and of its strategies, can be found in the literature. Indeed, most recent reviews stress the complexity of the emotion regulation construct, its multidimensionality, and thus the need to consider its many facets, such as distinguishing between implicit and explicit processes in relation to goal accomplishment, or considering the effects on emotion regulation of contextual variables, including culture, features of the eliciting situation, and individual characteristics, and analyzing the interactions among such facets (Aldao, Sheppes, & Gross, 2015; Aldao & Tull, 2015; Ford & Mauss, 2015; Morris, Silk, Steinberg, Myers, & Robinson, 2007; Raver, 2004).

Depressive symptoms are associated with higher use of maladaptive ER strategies such as rumination and expressive suppression, and lower use of adaptive ER such as cognitive reappraisal and acceptance (e.g., Campbell-Sills, Barlow, Brown, & Hofman, 2006; Ehring, Fischer, Schnülle, Bösterling, & Tuschen-Caffier, 2008; Nolen-Hoeksema et al., 2008; Aldao et al., 2010). Depressive emotion dysregulation appears throughout the cognitive phases of ER, including biased attentional deployment toward negative material, maintenance of such material in memory, biased interpretation of ambiguous stimuli, and elaboration of negative content through repetitive processing and impaired cognitive control (Gotlib & Joormann, 2010).

Specific to depressive symptoms in early to mid-adolescence were linked to experiencing greater lability and intensity of sadness, anger, and anxiety (Silk, Steinberg, & Morris, 2003). Additionally, Larson et al. (1990) also found that adolescents who reported greater emotional intensity and lability reported increased depressive symptoms. Internalizing symptoms may also be related to processes involved in regulating emotions, including how adolescents evaluate, monitor, and modify emotions. When evaluating emotions, more depressed adolescents may process emotional events in a biased way. For example, depressed adolescents have difficulties inhibiting the processing of negative emotional information in order to concentrate on another task (Ladouceur et al., 2005). Another way in which adolescents may engage in biased evaluations is through making cognitive errors.

Based on Beck’s (1976) model of depression, Leitenberg, Yost and Carroll-Wilson, (1986) proposed four common errors (i.e., overgeneralization, catastrophizing, personalization, and selective abstraction) in the thinking of depressed adolescents. For example, overgeneralization occurs when an individual assumes that an outcome in one situation will always occur in responses to that situation and similar situations in the future. Increased cognitive errors have been linked to both depressive symptomatology and clinical depression in middle adolescence (Leitenberg, Yost, & Carroll-Wilson, 1986; Epkins, 1998; Cole & Turner, 1993; Tems et al., 1993). Further, cognitive errors explain unique variability in depressive symptomatology above and beyond both the perceived and actual competence of the adolescent (Epkins, 1998). Consistent with this research, adolescents who report increased depressive symptoms are also less likely to engage in cognitive reappraisal (i.e., changing the way one thinks about a situation to alter its emotional effect) (Lane & Schwartz, 1987).

Another aspect of emotion regulation that may be related to depressive symptoms is the monitoring of one’s emotions. Monitoring one’s emotional states includes having an awareness and clarity of one’s emotions (Thompson, 1994) as well as the ability to understand the source of one’s emotions. Individuals who struggle to identify their emotions may consequently experience difficulties in the coherent regulation and expression of these emotions, which may also affect their susceptibility to developing depression (Lane & Schwartz, 1987). For example, adolescents who successfully monitor their emotions may be more able to consider strategies which allow the individual to better cope with the emotion-evoking situation (Southam-Gerow & Kendall, 2002). Poor monitoring of one’s emotions has been found to be related to increased internalizing symptoms, and specifically, depressive symptomatology (Hughes, Gullone, & Watson, 2011; Lane & Schwartz, 1987; Southam-Gerow & Kendall, 2002; Penza-Clyve & Zeman, 2002). Additionally, Ciarrochi et al. (2008) found that poor ability to identify one’s emotions was associated with increased negative affect in adolescents (ages 13–16).

Resilience, the third independent variable in this study, is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes (Carbonell, 1998). Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback (Ben-Ari & Gil, 2004). Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on (Ahern, 2006).

Resilient adolescents are those who have managed to cope effectively, even in the face of stress and other difficult circumstances, and are poised to enter adulthood with a good chance of positive mental health. A number of factors promote resilience in adolescents—among the most important are caring relationships with adults and an easy-going disposition (Rutter, 1993). Adolescents themselves can use a number of strategies, including exercising regularly, to reduce stress and promote resilience (Luthar, Cicchetti & Becker, 2000). Schools and communities are also recognizing the importance of resilience and general “emotional intelligence” in adolescents’ lives—a growing number of courses and community programs focus on adolescents’ social-emotional learning and coping skills (Dumont & Provost, 1999).

Resilience is often associated with discussions about periods of transition, disaster or adversity. Whether the topic of interest concerns a homeless teen living on the street, a dysfunctional family, or communities trying to rebuild after a disaster, resilient people seem to survive. Resilience is often viewed as an adaptive, stress resistant personal quality that permits one to thrive in spite of adversity (Earvolino-Ramirez, 2007). Although there is controversy as to whether resilience is a characteristic, a process, or an outcome, the construct has been characterized by many researchers as a dynamic process among factors that may mediate between an individual, his or her environment, and an outcome. It is of particular relevance to nurses working with children and young people as some strategies can enhance resilience to improve outcome (Aronowitz & Morrison-Beedy, 2004).

Masten (1994) has described the early years of resilience research as efforts to study this construct with children in a number of situations throughout the world. Researchers began to discover that children usually fared poorly as risk factors increased and resilience diminished (Garmezy & Masten, 1994). It became clear that children and adolescents experience risk and feelings of vulnerability differently depending on the developmental stage they have reached. Longitudinal studies have provided empirical evidence for the understanding of developmental resilience. One well-known landmark study provided essential information on resilience as a result of the compounding effects of multiple risks.

Children who were born in Kauai, Hawaii in 1955 were followed for more than four decades. About one third of the children were considered to be resilient despite their risks and then continued to be resilient adults (Werner, 1993). Other longitudinal studies of at-risk youth found that the effects of trauma experienced in childhood persist into early adulthood. (Luthar, 1991). Resilience research also focused on factors or characteristics that helped individuals manage adversity (Garmezy, 1991; Rutter, 1985).

In the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of literature referring to the concept of resilience in the field of developmental psychology (Fallon, 2007). Resilience is an individual’s capacity to transcend adversity and further more transform it into an opportunity for growth (Lightsey, 2006). Research into resilience encompasses many areas including individuals’ abilities of recovering to normal functioning during different stages of development after adversity. Hjemdal, Aune, Reinfjell, Stiles and Friborg (2007) have suggested that a resilient person must show positive outcomes across several aspects of life, over periods of time.

Resilience is a quality evident during times of transition where there is a great deal of stress. Adolescence is recognized as a developmental life stage that can be associated with high levels of stress (Earvolino-Ramirez, 2007). There have been claims that to measure resilience, it is necessary that a traumatic event presenting risks and threats needed to be experienced by an individual. In such cases individuals are usually not considered resilient unless there has been a significant threat to their development (Fergus & Zimmerman, 2005). However, life stressors such as daily hassles can also become risks when appropriate coping strategies are not applied.

Risk factors can exist at the individual level (e.g., genetics, biology, affect, cognition and behaviour) and broader contextual levels (e.g., family, friends, school and community). When these risks interact it may result with an individual experiencing poor mental health outcomes (Shortt and Spence, 2006).

Statement of the problem

Depression during adolescence is a serious problem because of its high prevalence, considerable burden of disease, suicide risk, other comorbid psychiatric disorders and the high risk of recurrence. Although knowledge about the etiology of depression has increased in the last decade, it is still difficult to explain and predict who becomes depressed, because of the many factors involved.

Observational studies consistently have identified that social support is negatively associated with depression among adolescents especially in Nigerian context. This study tries to advance the state of current knowledge on college students’ mental health. Particularly, previous studies showed that there are possible predictions of depressive symptoms by social support, emotion regulation and resilience among adolescents. This study seeks to contribute to the knowledge of the predicting role of social support, emotion regulation and resilience in depressive symptoms especially as it pertains to adolescents. It is expected that a better understanding of the interplay among these variables will have implications for the improved identification and treatment of adolescents at risk for depressive symptoms. The present study seeks to address the following research questions:

  1. Will support from special person will significantly predict depressive symptoms?
  2. Will family support will significantly predict depressive symptoms?
  3. Will support from friends will significantly predict depressive symptoms?
  4. Will emotion regulation will significantly predicted depressive symptoms?
  5. Will resilience will significantly predict depressive symptoms?

 Purpose of the Study

This study is aimed at evaluating the predictor potential of social support, emotion regulation and resilience in depressive symptoms among adolescent students. Hence, the specific objectives of this study are to examine whether:

  1. Support from special person will significantly predict depressive symptoms.
  1. Family support will significantly predict depressive symptoms.
  2. Support from friends will significantly predict depressive symptoms.
  3. Emotion regulation will significantly predicted depressive symptoms.
  4. Resilience will significantly predict depressive symptoms.

 Operational Definition of Terms

Depressive symptoms: This refers to negative changes or signs which indicate the presence of depression in an individual, as measured by Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) (Radloff, 1977).

Social support: This refers to the perception and actuality that one is cared for, has assistance available from family members, friends or significant others, as measured by Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) (Zimet et al., 1988).

Emotional regulation: This refers to the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as well as the ability to delay spontaneous reactions as needed, as measured by Emotion Dysregulation Scale – short form (Powers et al., 2015).

Resilience: This refers to an individual’s ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or other highly adverse conditions, as measured by the Resilience Scale (Wagnild & Young, 1993).

Adolescent students: These are students who are in their teenage years and are learning in a formal education system.

 

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