Adolescence is a time of change and a time of stress. Successful development of stress management skills helps an emerging adult respond to periods of upheaval, while ineffective skill development can lead to depression and a host of future concerns.
Researchers from the University of Montreal have developed a program to significantly reduce the stress associated with the transition from elementary school to middle school.
The DeStress for Success Program is based on an earlier study that showed the transition from elementary to secondary school is associated with the production of stress hormones for many youth.
“The educational program is based on the belief that intervention can decrease the level of stress hormones and depressive symptoms in teenagers and help facilitate this transition,” said Sonia Lupien, lead author of the study.
A study published in February in Neuroscience confirms the benefits of the DeStress for Success Program among youth completing their first year of high school.
The program was presented to 504 students aged 11 to 13 years from two private schools in the Montreal area. Students from one school were exposed to the program, while those of the other school served as the control group.
Before starting the project, cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in saliva and depressive symptoms were measured to determine whether adolescents beginning secondary school with specific depressive symptoms responded differently to the program.
Markers were also measured during and after the program as well as three months following participation in the project to validate whether improvement was maintained.
The study showed that adolescents starting secondary school with high levels of anger had, through the program, significantly lowered levels of stress hormones. These adolescents were in fact 2.45 times less likely to suffer from depression compared to the other adolescents.
“This study provides the first evidence that a stress education program is effective in reducing stress hormone levels and depressive symptoms among adolescents making the transition to high school,” says Pierrich Plusquellec, co-author of the study.
The program also helped identify a certain profile of adolescent responding more to the educational tool.
Source: University of Montreal