Depression and Anxiety in Kids Predicts Poor Achievement

by: Dan Florell, Ph.D.

This episode focuses on how children with emotional problems due academically as they get older.

We are featuring a journal article this week titled The relationship between emotional problems and subsequent school attainment. The authors used 26 previous longitudinal studies on children and adolescents to explore the extent that internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety had on their school success.

The authors found small but significant effects regarding emotional problems and school failure. In addition, higher levels of internalizing disorders and depression were associated with students having lower grades though this was not found in student with higher anxiety levels.

They also found that as students got older, depression and anxiety are more likely to negatively affect school grades. The authors speculated this may be due to older students having dealt with depression and anxiety for longer periods of time and that older adolescents have higher academic demands placed on them. In addition, girls were more likely to have higher anxiety levels and school failure when compared to boys.

The takeaway is that high levels of depression and anxiety in students have a negative impact on their school success across time. This effect becomes more pronounced as students get older. Health professionals and educators need to identify students with emotional problems early on so as to intervene and prevent school failure. This can be accomplished through school-wide mental health screenings and early warning systems that notice when students are beginning to exhibit internalizing symptoms.


Riglin, L., Petrides, K.V., Frederickson, N., & Rice, F. (2014). The relationship between emotional problems and subsequent school attainment: A meta-analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 37, 335-346.

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