"Our study is one of the first to reveal that the constellation of symptoms that point to risks for depression hurt not only the teachers who experience these symptoms, but also the development of the teachers' students -- especially students who are struggling academically," said Carol Connor, professor of psychology at the Arizona State University.
The researchers looked at 27 teachers and their 523 third-grade students. Teachers reported the frequency of their symptoms of clinical depression, and students' basic reading and math skills were assessed throughout the year.
The students who were the most vulnerable to the negative effects of their teachers' depression were those who were already struggling in math, suggesting that the children who needed to improve the most were less likely to be able to do so when they were in classrooms with more depressed teachers.
Students with weaker math achievement made greater gains when they were in higher-quality classrooms with less depressed teachers."Teaching is one of the most stressful occupations," Leigh McLean, doctoral student at Arizona State University, noted.
"Our study reveals some of the negative implications of higher rates of teachers' symptoms of depression for students," McLean added.
The study appeared in the journal Child Development.