Adolescents' social environment and depression: social networks, extracurricular activity, and family relationship influences

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2009 Dec;16(4):346-54. doi: 10.1007/s10880-009-9169-4. Epub 2009 Jul 21.


The present study examined components of adolescents' social environment (social network, extracurricular activities, and family relationships) in association with depression. A total of 332 adolescents presenting for a routine medical check-up were self-assessed for social network risk (i.e., smoking habits of best male and female friends), extracurricular activity level (i.e., participation in organized sports teams, clubs, etc.), family relationship quality (i.e., cohesion and conflict), and symptoms of depression (i.e., minimal, mild, moderate/severe). Results of a forward linear regression modeling indicate that social environment components were associated with a significant proportion of the variance in adolescent depression (Adjusted R (2) = .177, p < or = .05). Specifically, adolescent females (beta = .166, p < .01) and those having more smokers in their social network (beta = .107, p < .05) presented with significantly greater depression symptoms. Conversely, adolescents who engaged in more extracurricular activities (beta = -.118, p < .05) and experienced higher quality family relationships (beta = -.368, p < .001) presented with significantly lower depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the important role that the social environment plays in adolescent depression, as well as yields new insights into socially-based intervention targets that may ameliorate adolescent depression. These intervention targets may be gender-specific, include positive social network skills training, increase adolescents' engagement in organized activities, and attend to the quality of their family relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Family Conflict / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Identification
  • Social Support*