Problem-focused coping and depression among adolescents: Mediating effect of self-esteem

  • Chin Wen CongEmail author
  • Wu Shin Ling
  • Tan Soon Aun


Adolescence is a developmental phase marked by a high risk of depressive symptoms. The Diathesis-Stress Model of Depression proposed that different types of coping strategy can determine depression level in individuals differently. It was found that low self-esteem is linked with greater depressive symptoms among adolescents. Although past studies have discovered the effects of problem-focused coping on depression, there are limited studies examining the underlying mechanism among Malaysian adolescents. Thus, the present study investigated the intervening role of self-esteem on the association between problem-focused coping and depression among adolescents. A total of 852 secondary school students in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia were recruited through multi-stage cluster sampling. Participants filled out self-reported questionnaires on depression, self-esteem, and problem-focused coping. SPSS macro was used to analyze the mediation model. The findings showed both self-esteem and problem-focused coping negatively correlated with adolescents’ depression. Self-esteem in turn partially mediated the association between problem-focused coping and adolescents’ depression. Thus, it is recommended that intervention on reducing depressive symptoms should focus on providing adolescents with the skills to use problem-focused coping. Workshops could be conducted to heighten adolescents’ self-esteem through the help of teachers, parents and school counselors in reducing depressive symptoms among adolescents.


Adolescence Coping Depression Self-esteem 



This study was not funded. The authors thanked all the participants for their participation in the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the UTAR Scientific and Ethical Review Committee (U/SERC/19/2019) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments on comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal ArtsUCSI UniversityWilayah Persekutuan Kuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, School of Science and TechnologySunway UniversityPetaling JayaMalaysia
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Counselling, Faculty of Arts and Social ScienceUniversiti Tunku Abdul RahmanKamparMalaysia

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