There’s No Age Limit
Many people view depression as an adult disorder. However, depression has no age limit. In fact, more teenagers, especially girls, are suffering from depression today. An alarming study conducted at University College London found that 24 percent of 14-year-old girls suffered from depression, compared with 9 percent of boys the same age. These figures represent a crisis in the mental health of our young people.
Given the pressure that teenage girls face in Western society concerning body image and their looks, their appeal to boys––along with the pressure that nearly all young people feel to fit in with their peers––and with their schoolwork, it’s understandable that girls would experience higher levels of depression than boys do. Nonetheless, the disparity is disturbing, to say the least.
Many issues have a profound effect on depression, even years later, including losing loved ones, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and poverty. In addition, many struggling teens find it difficult to obtain the support they need. Societal stigma attached to mental health issues, especially among people of color, also exacerbates the problem.
“Encourage teens to reach out, giving them assurances that they won’t be punished or criticized for speaking up.
Professional counseling should definitely be considered, sooner rather than later.”
Even worse, parents underestimate the mental health difficulties that girls face in today’s society. As a result, they often miss the following warning signs of trouble in their daughters.
- Severe dieting
- Withdrawal from school activities or friends
- Radical changes in dress
- Moodiness and outbursts
- Falling grades
Less-severe forms of these symptoms are associated with normal adolescent development. Nonetheless, parents should err on the side of caution. Encourage daughters to reach out, giving them assurances that they won’t be punished or criticized for speaking up. Professional counseling should definitely be considered, sooner rather than later.
With early intervention, many girls (and boys!) can be spared from suffering the most severe consequences of depression. Effective treatments are available that allow teens to regain their sense of well-being and enjoy the transition to adulthood.