Sadness and Depression in Teen Girls
While teens of any gender can experience mood disorders, adolescent girls are far more likely than boys to become depressed. According to a report released by the CDC last month, almost three in five teenage girls said they felt persistent sadness in 2021, while one in three considered a suicide attempt. These rates are the highest in a decade, likely due to the unique stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why Are Teenage Girls More Vulnerable to Depression?
Based on the CDC’s nationwide survey, girls feel sad at twice the rate of boys, but what causes this disparity? From looking at brain scans, we know that girls reach emotional maturity sooner than boys. Their heightened sensitivity to the world around them could make teen girls more vulnerable to depression and related issues such as anxiety.
Young girls may also have more interpersonal stress and internalized conflicts than boys. A tendency to overthink problems, coupled with low self-esteem or body image issues, can be a recipe for mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Warning Signs of Teen Depression
Since depression symptoms in young women and men can present themselves differently, it’s crucial to know what red flags to look for. Often, girls internalize their depression, as opposed to adolescent boys, who tend to act out or become irritable and aggressive. Therefore, it might take time for you to recognize the hallmarks of depression in your teen daughter.
The first thing you might notice is that your daughter seems withdrawn or disinterested in school, sports or other activities. She could start spending more time alone and apart from friends and family. There may be other behavioral changes too, such as sleeping more than usual and having low energy or a lethargic attitude. If several of these warning signs are present, be vigilant about the possibility of depression – especially if mental health challenges run in your family.
How to Help a Teen With Depression
If left untreated, teen depression can persist into adulthood, where it can become increasingly debilitating. Mood disorders can prevent a young woman from reaching her full potential and becoming a happy, well-adjusted adult. That’s why it’s essential to talk to your daughter about her feelings and let her know that you’ll always be there to provide support if she needs it.
Any noticeable deterioration in your daughter’s attitude or behavior that persists for two weeks or longer without stopping may indicate major depressive disorder. Young adults can also experience dysthymia, a milder form of depression that may not interfere with day-to-day responsibilities, but which can still adversely affect relationships and quality of life.
Teenage depression frequently co-occurs with other mental and behavioral health issues like substance abuse, anxiety, disordered eating and self-harm. Since a dual diagnosis can severely impact every aspect of a young person’s life, a professional substance and mental health evaluation can give your child the best chance of recovery. At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we also offer family counseling and parenting support to help you work through complex issues. Contact us today to learn more about our specialized services and customized outpatient programming.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.