Did you know that one out of three teens will be diagnosed with depression? In 2013 alone, 2.6 million teens between the ages of 12 and 17 had at least one major depressive disorder. In that one-year period, 16.2 percent of females ages 12 to 17 had a depressive episode, according to the 2013 Behavioral Health Barometer.
With hormonal changes from puberty, social and academic pressures, and the pressure to live up to societal standards of beauty, teen girls are more likely to experience major depression than boys are. For girls in the age range of 12 to 15, depression actually triples.
Depression is commonly mistaken for sadness or moodiness, but it’s more serious than just a few ups and downs, bad days, and growing pains. So what does teen depression in girls look like?
Effects of Depression in Girls
You may think that acting out, anger and negative moods are signs of depression but when these emotions become overwhelming and they persist over a long period of time, irritability, aggression, and rage become the norm.
You may begin to see some of the following signs of depression occur:
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Loss of interest in enjoyed activities
- Hopelessness and worthlessness
- Lack of energy/sleeping too much or too little
- Irritability, hostility, angry outbursts
- Sensitivity to criticism, rejection, and failure
- Tearfulness and frequent crying
- Suicidal thoughts/attempts
Teen girls are bombarded with all kinds of images of how they should look and how they should act, which society, parents, teachers, friends and the influences of social media often impose on them.
Not only does the pressure to uphold this image become stressful, but when dynamics in important relationships are disrupted as well, such as parents divorcing or a break-up with a significant other, the above behaviors can be pervasive.
Physical Signs of Depression
Some physical signs of depression can include:
- Self-injury/cutting – Often on wrists, arms, or noticeable parts of the body, which is often a sign of getting attention; it’s an outcry.
- Substance abuse – used as a way to self-medicate and escape depression.
- Sexual promiscuity – can also be a sign of wanting more attention.
- Changes in appetite – whether it’s eating more such as binge eating or eating less and less or not at all; developing eating disorders.
- Sleeping habits –whether sleeping too much (hyposomnia) or sleep too little (insomnia).
- Lack of energy – by feeling fatigued and lazy, and not engaging in as many activities as one used to.
- Academic and/or social functioning – due to the lack of energy, substance abuse and other habits, poor performance in school and activities, and decline in social interaction is common.
Emotional Signs of Depression
Some emotional signs of depression can include:
- Low self-esteem – usually there is high sensitivity and intense feelings of unworthiness, unattractiveness, shame, embarrassment and failure.
- Emotional pain – caused from bullying, cyberbullying or shaming from others.
- Break-ups – that cause low self-esteem, high sensitivity, and feelings of abandonment.
- Neglect – whether from parents, caretakers, or other significant relationships.
- Abandonment – whether from parents, family members, friends or a significant other.
The physical and emotional signs of depression can weight heavy on a teen who’s already dealing with the growing pains of adolescence. If there are co-occurring disorders, the depression can get worse.
Common Co-occurring Disorders
About 20 percent of teens will have had depression, but only 80 percent will actually receive treatment for depression. What’s more, the majority of teens who struggle with depression also struggle with a common co-occurring disorder such as:
- Anxiety disorder
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorder
Combine major depression with other mental disorders and it’s clear why teen girls find themselves searching for other outlets to escape or cope with their unresolved problems. It’s no surprise that untreated teen depression often leads to drug and alcohol abuse, self-loathing and self-mutilation, pregnancy, violence, and even suicide.
Effective Ways to Treat Depression
While antidepressants can be helpful, there are better ways to treat teen depression in girls that don’t rely on medication. If prescribed for too long, antidepressants often cause depression symptoms to become more severe, especially if another mental illness co-occurs.
If your teen girl is engaged in substance abuse, drugs and alcohol could be making her depression and reckless behavior even worse. The most effective treatment for teen girls with depression and substance use disorder is at an accredited teen rehab facility with licensed therapists.
Find Help for Your Teen Girl Today
A gender-specific teen program that helps teen girls focus on their recovery through detox and individualized therapy is the best solution. At Teen Treatment Center, we help our teen girls thrive in recovery with individual and group therapy, engaging recreational activities, and healthy social, academic and life skills.
To learn more about the Teen Treatment Center’s program for girls, call us today at (844)319-5239. Our admissions counselors are always available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays.